Amid tall claims of development made by some leaders, and alluring promises by others, the voice of Deriyakhal villagers, demanding basic amenities, is not heard.
When Hindustan Times invited the rural community living 4 km from Lansdowne for 'Village Talk', they readily accepted the invitation. Many thought a team from the state government was finally ready to hear their side of the story, at last. However, after ascertaining the nature of the discussion, they accepted the invitation and burst off as soon as the conversation began. All these villagers want is basic amenities necessary to live with dignity.
Irregularities in drinking water supply
Not only Deriyakhal, but also adjoining villages, including Jaledha, Chundai, Chametha, Sisaldi and Asankhet, are reeling from the lack of drinking water supply. For women, this means a gruelling struggle to quench the thirst of their family.
Teji told Hindustan Times, “There's no water in this region. Hand pumps are of no use and water pipelines have gone dry. I walk more than 10km everyday to fill two buckets of water.”
Villagers complained that water scarcity has also hit Lansdowne, which is a major tourist destination in Pauri district. Rakesh Rawat shared, “Lansdowne is a major tourist attraction; still, the state government hasn't addressed the problem. As a result, adjoining villages too suffer.” Just for their basic needs, villagers buy water from service tanks from Kotdwar. Kali Devi lamented, “We are poor people and rely on pensions, yet we have to pay for water. No leader has ever taken our problem seriously.” Needless to say, fields have long since dried up, agriculture has been ruined and incomes are declining.
Lack of higher education
Youngsters wishing to pursue higher studies have to travel to Dehradun. “Talking about education, there's nothing even in Kotdwar. Therefore, we have to migrate to Dehradun for higher education and later, for jobs” Amit, a Ghangali village resident said.
Needless to say, the poorer families can hardly afford the cost of their wards living away from home, while for most girls, it is a distant dream.
No emergency medical care
With the primary health centres (PHCs) offering limited services, villagers have to make a one-hour-journey to Kotdwar in case of emergency. There is no major hospital in the area, despite a heavy military presence. Manvar Singh Rawat said, “Villagers residing in interiors of the constituency have to travel more than two hours to avail medical facilities in Kotdwar as the local health centre cannot cater to all our problems.”
Needless to say, many are not able to survive the gruelling journey. Jayswari said, “Our village is one kilometre walking distance from the main road. Even after we carry the patient there, we have to wait for transport to get to Kotdwar. Several patients have died due to lack of emergency medical help.
”They confirmed that GVK EMRI 108 emergency service is a blessing in their region, but the ambulances are stationed far away and take a long time to get there, even when time is of most essence.