BY SWAPNANEEL BHATTACHARJEE
Silchar Nov 16,2017: Namami Barak, which has been in talks in various circles for the past few weeks, is set to be celebrated in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts of Assam’s Barak Valley from November 18-20.
Excitement is very much palpable amongst citizens as the fest, which is expected to witness scores of distinguished personalities from across India and abroad, is going to be the first of its kind to take place in the valley.
While political experts, especially from the ruling party, are of the opinion that the initiative by the government will usher in a new era of progress and development in the valley, remarks are also pouring in from certain quarters (mostly from anti-BJP units), that the government, instead of spending huge amount of money on such an extravagant fiesta, should have mulled over other important issues with which the region have been grappling for years.
Besides the political falling-out, it remains a big question what the common people, who had showered their love and support on the BJP in the elections with the expectations of “acche din”, think about this initiative by the government.
In order to find this out, TNT – The Northeast Today caught up with citizens from various fields and tried to know if the endeavour by the government is making/has made any impact on their lives.
Ripon Das, an auto-rickshaw driver and a resident of Rongpur in Silchar, said the Namami Barak fest is nothing less than a “God’s gift” as all the roads in the town are being repaired. Good roads are equivalent to good income for them (auto-rickshaw drivers), he added.
Nabanita Paul Choudhury, a student of Assam University, said such fests should be organised every year as roads would remain in good shape. “Connectivity has been a perennial problem in Silchar. Thanks to Namami Barak, atleast the roads have been improved,” she added.
Nilkanta Das, a rickshaw-puller and a resident of Gosaipara, Tarapur in Silchar, said he has never seen roads here in such a good condition earlier. Das, who has been pulling rickshaws since past 35 years, urged that the authorities should regularly carry out maintenance of roads.
Biprajit Bhowmik, a businessman and a resident of Tarapur, said it is nearly impossible to believe how the entire picture of the town has been transformed almost overnight. Roads at different localities of the town were in shambles just few days back, but the “Namami Barak magic” changed it all, he quipped.
A large section of citizens of Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, too, have expressed happiness over the improved condition of connectivity and responded in positive as far as the impact of the fest on their lives is concerned.
This apparently draws a conclusion that the meteoric transformation of roads in the valley, particularly in Silchar, has left everyone wonderstruck, and it is actually the “change” which is getting most of the attention from the masses.
Thus, it will be interesting to see whether the Namami Barak fever which has brought an incredible change in Silchar is maintained, or the scenario becomes like earlier after the fest gets over.
Some, however, felt that the government, before this initiative, should have taken steps to solve other issues.
Arup Chakraborty, a worker of Cachar Paper Mill, Panchgram said it is nice that the government is coming up innovative ideas like this for development of the valley, but, there are various other vital issues, especially the issue of the pending salaries and defunct condition of the mill (Cachar Paper Mill) for which thousands of families are immensely suffering since the past one and a half years.
Rajesh Das, a farmer and a resident of Sonai in Cachar district, said flood is the most important issue in the valley which needed to be addressed by the government.
“Flood is a major concern in this part of the state. Farmers in massive numbers face losses every year and as such it is more necessary that the government goes for a long-term solution regarding the issue,” he added.
Meanwhile, preparations for the fest are underway in full swing in Silchar. In this connection, The Northeast Today got in touch with officials of the authorities related with the event.
Anand Prakash Tiwari, chief executive officer of the Namami Barak fest, said there would be no ticket/pass system in the event and it would be open for one and all. He also urged the citizens to attend the festival and help in making it a huge success.
Niharendra Narayan Tagore, chairperson of the Silchar Municipal Board, said vehicles for garbage collection would be in operation at different areas and various NGOs associated with the board would also collect trash from households.
Cachar superintendent of police – Rakesh Roushan said police would be present in teams at all the event venues as well as in other important areas and five control rooms would be set up to prevent any unpleasant incidents during the fest.
Sources said 11 platforms have been created at Annapurnaghat, where aarti (a religious ritual) would be performed on all days of the fest. As part of the fest, there will be a fish fest at India Club ground for which 10 stalls have been set up. The stalls will feature varieties of local fishes and will cost lesser compared to local markets. Electronic boards will be installed at the site which will have a live display on aspects related to fishery technology and pisciculture.
The inaugural and concluding events would be held at Police Parade ground. Debojit Saha, winner of Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, 2005 and Bollywood singer Zubeen Garg will perform there on November 18 and November 19, while Bollywood singer Shaan will perform on the concluding day of the programme.