By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jun 12: Lack of basic amenities coupled with threats from neighbouring villages have led to drastic decline in the population of Babukhal, Boroikhal and Sambughat villages in Jiribam district.
Babukhal which once had a population of around 500 now has only around 200 while Sambughat which once had more than 300 now has only around 65. On the other hand, the population of Boroikhal has decreased from 1500 to only around 110 at present.
The people of the three villages have been stuck in a primitive way of living since the past 55 years due to the absence of proper roads, health care systems, education facilities as well as complete lack of electricity (except Babukhal which was electrified recently) among other basic amenities.
Although the State Government has been constructing an Inter Village Road (IVR) connecting
Babukhal village to National Highway-37 since March this year, the road is not motorable currently and the people still have to walk several kilometres on the hilly terrain reach other places of the district.
There is not a single bridge over Moktok Khong, a branch of Jiri river that geographically separates the three villages from other parts of the district.
This has led to a halt in progress of the economy of the villagers till date.
Speaking to The Sangai Express, Thounaojam Kelani, a 49 year old resident of Babukhal village asserted that life in Babukhal is tough and the same is true in the other two villages as well.
There are no agricultural lands in the village as the village is located on a hilly terrain.
She informed that the main occupation of the locals of the three villages are bamboo and wood trading and growing betel leaves and vegetables.
She said that the absence of proper road has been posing a hindrance to the economic activities of the villagers, particularly while transporting the products grown in the villages to the market. Transportation of goods using boats is not an easy task and one has to walk for a long distance from the river basin to the markets.
It takes a lot of time and cannot be done on large scale basis, she explained.
Informing that the three villages were formed in 1964 with the then Chief Minister M Koireng bringing the Meiteis and Manipuri Bishnupriyas from Bangladesh and allowing them to settle there, another resident of Boroikhal (who identified herself as Pukhrambam Suroli Devi) lamented that the quality of life in the three villages is quite similar to the dark ages till this day.
She maintained that there is only a lower primary school in Babukhal and she looks after the said school as the teachers posted in the school have failed to come all these years.
As a result of Government negligence in extending education facility to the villages and due to the poor economic conditions of the villagers, only a few children are sent to the school while many parents ignore sending their children to the school.
However, many parents who are poor but interested in providing education to their children, are disappointed to see their children discontinue school after class five as there is no upper primary school or high school in any of the three villages, she said adding that not a single Government employee has stepped foot in any of the three villages in their almost 55 years of existence.
The worst circumstance in the village is when a villager falls sick. If an individual falls sick, he or she has to either walk or has to be carried by the villagers to the nearest dispensary which is miles away from the villages, she added.
On the other hand, she informed that Boroikhal and Sambughat villages are yet to get any electricity, although the people of Babukhal village have started enjoying the facility since last year.
Claiming that the villagers have been receiving extreme pressure and threats to abandon their villages since many years back, some villagers (who did not wish to disclose their identities) asserted that the lack of basic amenities and threats from the neighbouring villages have forced many to leave their homes and shift to other places.
On the other hand, volunteers of International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA) interacted with the villagers of the Babukhal, Boroikhal and Sambughat on June 10 during an inspection visit at Babukhal village.
A simple function graced by IPSA president Joychandra Konthoujam and attended by many villagers, including Hilghat GP member Ngariyambam Gopeshor Singh was also held on the day.
Speaking at the event, Joychandra assured that he would urge the Government to address the grievances of the villagers after highlighting the same to the authority concerned.
He also explained about the various Governmental schemes being implemented in the State for the welfare of the people and asked the villagers to take the benefits of the said schemes.
He added that a health camp will also be organized for the three villages in the future taking into consideration the lack of health care system in the villages.
By Our Staff Reporter