It doesn’t pay to be patient with an “indifferent” government. So the people of seven villages in Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district decided to end their wait for a road project undertaken 20 years ago.
Some 750 men and women of these villages – Mookhon Iung, Mookabeng, Nongkharai, Nonglatem, Iongshiwiat, Moorathut and Nongdhar – did not block traffic or storm the office of the Public Works (Roads). They picked up their spades and pickaxes, scraped earth and chiseled boulders from the hills nearby and started making their own road.
This cluster of seven villagers, sited 105 km southeast of state capital Shillong, lies on 85 km Nongpoh-Nartiang road ends. The PWD (Roads) began work on this road in 1989-90, but left out a 15 km stretch connecting these villages.
“Last month, we decided we had enough of waiting. All the villagers got together and decided to begin work from September 4. We hope to complete the work by the end of this month, and then see if the government still remains shameless not to come and blacktop it,” said Tyllilang Mukhim, rangbah shnong or headman of Nonglatem village.
Officials, however, are far from moved. “We cannot do anything unless we have adequate funds to complete the project,” said a PWD officer.
According to Mukhim, the villagers want to make the road good enough for commercial vehicles to carry their agricultural produce from their doorstep. “Almost all of us grow a variety of vegetables, rice, ginger and broomstick, and it is not always possible to take them to the markets before they rot,” he told HT from Nonglatem.
The headman added at least eight persons died in these villages over the past couple of years for delay in carrying them to the nearest primary health centre.
Access to healthcare has been an issue raging in other parts of Meghalaya as well. The Ri-Bhoi Youth Federation on Monday launched a two-night road blockade in Ri-Bhoi district to make the DD Lapang government ensure doctors and nurses are available in the CHCs and PHCs.
The announcement of the blockade almost coincided with the headmen of 13 villages in West Khasi Hills district lodging a complaint with the authorities concerned demanding better roads and healthcare facilities.