BIJEPUR:Even as political affiliations and equations are changing quite often in the run-up to Bijepur by-election, necessitated by death of Congress MLA Subal Sahu, the second largest village in Bijepur Assembly segment, Laumunda, is craving for attention.
The village, bordering Agalpur block in Balangir district, comprises nine wards. It is also the Gram Panchayat headquarters. But, development in the village is a misnomer with the villagers hoping some progress against the backdrop of the by-election.
Inhabited by about 7,000 people, this village is deprived of basic amenities. A drive down the village is nothing less than a nightmarish experience, commuters said. The road connecting Laumunda with Agalpur is worse. Ironically, even after being a part of the Bargarh district, villagers are compelled to depend on Agalpur for all their basic needs due to lack of good roads. “It is not that we have never raised our voices against the administration’s apathy, our grievances have failed to move the authorities,” villagers lamented.
While most of the villagers are into farming, locals claim that there is no trace of irrigation facility here. It is the rains that decide the fate of farmers. Even as the villagers had been demanding construction of a check dam across river Utali, the officials at all levels chose to ignore the matter, locals added.
“The check dam would have irrigated the agricultural fields in the village. But it is not on the agenda of the district administration or any political party. Moreover, the embankment of a bridge over river Utali is also getting eroded and despite apprising the officials of the impending threat, no action has yet been taken,” villagers complained.
Adding to the woes, the farmers are facing drought and crop loss for the third consecutive year. They are apparently trapped in a debt cycle. The few, who had moved the Lift Irrigation Corporation for a LI Point, are also dejected. At least four villagers had deposited ` 20,000 each in 2015 for installing a deep bore-well on their lands.
“But, the plan couldn’t materialise as the mother of a farmer, Pala Seth, died. This forced him to withdraw `10,000 from the deep bore-well fund to perform the funeral rites of his mother. Consequently, this incident also sealed the fate of other three farmers,” villagers added.
The lone traditional water harvesting structure in the village ‘Dushi Kanta’ has begun to dry up in the absence of rain. Villagers are worried that it will soon dry up before the onset of monsoon next year. The womenfolk wait in long queues for hours to collect drinking water from the four tube-wells in the village.
Ironically, at a time when the rest of the country is pre-occupied with terms like digitalisation and perturbed over GDP, the village has no bank exposing the villagers to the exploits of private money lenders.
In such a scenario, a delegation of villagers, under the banner of Laumunda Vikash Parishad, met Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik, urging him to provide them with a bank and declare Laumunda as the block headquarters after Bijepur is upgraded as an NAC in future.