Meghalaya: CM meets residents of border villages who depend on ‘mercy of Bangladesh’ for essential services


SHILLONG, June 20, 2018: The Meghalaya government on Tuesday heard the pleas of over 5,000 residents of villages along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, who depend on the "mercy of Bangladesh" for healthcare and other essential services.

A delegation of Hingaria, Huroi, Lahaleiñ and Lejri villages under Sutnga-Saipung Assembly constituency in East Jaintia Hills district, accompanied by social welfare minister Kyrmen Shylla, on Tuesday met chief minister Conrad K. Sangma and told him about their long-pending grievances.

A petition on the need to take immediate action was handed over to Conrad.

At present, the villages are connected by a muddy road, about 60km from Sonapur, a village along National Highway-44 and around 185km from Shillong.

The delegation demanded speedy steps for better roads, including metalling and blacktopping of the Borkhat-Sonapur road, a primary health centre in any of the four villages, besides supply of drinking water and electricity.

"We have been living at the mercy of Bangladesh for many years. We know it is illegal, but we have no option but to often rush to Bangladesh for treatment. Many lives have been lost due to absence of a proper healthcare unit and the nearest public health centre at Umkiang village on National Highway 44 is far away," Kynjamon Amse, a villager, told reporters here.

While it takes about 10 minutes to walk from the four villages to reach Bangladesh, it takes not less than five hours to reach the nearest primary health centre. The nearest market is at Umkiang.

The border residents also depend on Bangladeshi traders for buying essential items including biscuits and tea. The delegation reminded Conrad about the NEC-funded Rymbai-Borkhat-Jalalpur road for which Rs 97 crore was allotted. The project has been pending since 2011.

Last year, the residents of Huroi village had decided to boycott Assembly elections to protest against the government's negligence.

"We had sought appointments twice with then chief minister Mukul Sangma but to no avail," a member of the delegation said. The villagers also urged the state government to take steps for opening of a border haat in the four villages.

They said villagers often use Bangladesh's mobile network as it is easily accessible. Amse said Conrad assured them that he would address their grievances.

A villager said: "Right to life does not mean mere animal existence. We do not get basic amenities. We are neglected by the government."

TNT with inputs from The Telegraph