DEHRADUN: Such is the desperation of people living in Nakaayal village, which becomes virtually inaccessible during monsoons, that they threatened mass suicide by self-immolation at sub-divisonal magistrate's office of August 15, Independence Day.
Sensing the seriousness of the situation, officials from the district administration rushed to the village on Friday on the eve of Independence Day.
The village residents, located just 9 km from Haldwani city in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, agreed to cancel the dreaded step for now after they were promised results within a month.
Vivek Rai, sub-divisional magistrate who visited the village said, "We spoke to the residents about their concerns. We are looking into the matter to soon resolve the issue."
PC Pande, the village pradhan told The New Indian Express, "The officials came and initiated talks with us. They promised us that the requisite paper procedure will be completed within a month and soon afterwards work will start to build a bridge and road."
All this village needs is a two kilometer road and a bridge over one of the tributary rivers to connect it to mainland. Residents of the village said that even after 73-years of Independence, they still feel trapped with road and a small bridge.
Interestingly, the government officials could not dare to drive through the flowing river which cuts off the village in monsoon season. It was only after the village residents demonstrated using tractor to cross the river, the officials drove through.
Residents recall various incidents of medical cases like pregnancies in which either they transferred the patient a fortnight earlier to Haldwani or lives were lost. Around 75 families with total population of 450 live in the village.
During the rains, the families resort to prayers with hope that the rage of the monsoon is not such that it swells the water of the 2 tributary rivers of Gaula-- Sukhi and Paada cutting them from the rest of the world making the village an open air prison.
Amount of Rs 29 crore had been already sanctioned by the state government in 2013 but of no avail.
Residents added that it is only when they protest or threaten some sort of radical move including group suicide, self-immolation, the government officials wake up from their slumber to pacify the situation for that moment.
They sat on protest on June 6, 2017 demanding immediate action in the matter after which officials from administration the disposal within 90 days.
Later in the years 2018 and 2019 too they travelled to Dehradun to get things move ahead to see the project light of the day.
The residents recall a horrible incident last year in monsoon when a bus full of 50 children from the village, had a close shave in high currents of Sukhi river.
"The bus was about to flow away and drown with 50 children but it was Almighty who miraculously saved our children. Even death and cremation needs approval of these two rivers to be performed," says Kalawati Pandey (50), a resident of the village.
The people of the village in Lalkuan state assembly constituency also directly blamed the Bhartiya Janta Party MLA and the government. Right from MLA to MP to Chief Minister to Prime Minsiter, all representatives ranging from their constituency to state and country belong to one party but no sign of ‘vikas’ is visible in the village as promised.
“Everyone, right from cabinet ministers to MLAs to administrative officials came to us in Lok Sabha as well as state assembly elections as we announced buycott. They all promised many things including the road and the bridge but nothing has been done so far,” added Lakshmi Dutt Bhatt (63), a resident.