BARGARH :With Odisha Government remaining indifferent to the development of Chardapali Gram Panchayat bordering Chhattisgarh in the district, the villagers have decided to meet Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to facilitate merger of the Gram Panchayat with Chhattisgarh.
At least five villages under Chardapali Gram Panchayat remain cut off from the mainstream during monsoon for four months every year due to flood in the river Ong.
In the absence of a bridge on the river, about 600 villagers of Chardapali, Changaria, Gundichadihi, Lahandipur and Luhurakot are deprived of essential commodities. Even children are forced to stay away from schools during this period due to lack of connectivity. Although the people have been demanding a bridge on the river, the State Government or the local administration has not taken any step in this regard. These villages are surrounded by river Surangi in the east, river Chirai in the west and river Ong in the south. In the north lies a hill range across which, Chhattisgarh is located. During rain, Ong gets flooded with run off water flowing from the hill range.
Country boats ferry the villagers to Lakhmara Gram Panchayat in Paikmal block of the district across river Ong during the rest of the year. Absence of connectivity has also kept the State Government officials away from the village, depriving the villagers of welfare measures.
With their repeated pleas to the district administration and the State Government failing to evoke any response, the villagers have finally decided to meet CM Raman Singh and request him to facilitate the panchayat’s merger with Chhattisgarh.
A group of villagers will leave for Raipur on December 28 when they will meet Raman Singh over the issue. After discussions, they will declare the panchayat’s merger with Chhattisgarh at a convention slated to be held on January 9 next year.
It is learnt that the Rural Development department has sanctioned funds for construction of a bridge under Biju Setu Yojana. But the proposal has remained stuck due to red-tapism.
A villager of Chardapali, Motilal Balam, said they are not demanding anything big. If Odisha Government feels that the land belongs to it, they should provide them basic amenities, he added. Balam said there is no secondary school in the Gram Panchayat and the students have no other way but to cross the river at their own risk to pursue higher education.
“Despite raising our demands umpteen times, none paid heed following which we are forced to take this decision,” he added. Padampur BJP MLA Pradip Purohit said the issue had been discussed in the State Assembly. There is a need to bring the people to the mainstream in Odisha. I will support the villagers if Odisha Government fails to construct a bridge,” he added.