Ruchika M Khanna & Anirudh Gupta, Tribune News Service
Chheena Singh Wala Di Basti (Ferozepur), January 21. Nothing has changed for villagers living on both sides of the Sutlej. Nothing will, they say, as the river frequently changes its course when rain comes. The nature has taken its toll on their dwellings, and successive governments have only given them the cold shoulder.
With elections only a few days away, hundreds of villagers along the river would like to teach politicians a lesson. “We are waiting for them to come. We will shoo them away. They have done nothing for us. We see them only after five years. They come, make promises and disappear. They are not bothered whether we have basic amenities,” says Sumitra Mai, a widow who feeds her family of six by working on her two- acre land.
Others too have a similar reaction. These farmers have to cross the river in small boats to reach their small farmlands.
There is no bridge. For ferrying tractors to their farms, they have to borrow a ‘rehra’ (a homemade contraption that can carry the vehicle across the river). And in spite of the huge efforts they make to earn a living, heavy rains every year wash away their standing paddy crop. “But politicians aren’t bothered. We are not willing to vote as voting does not change anything for us,” says Harnam Singh of Tindiwala Basti.
The roads in the villages have remained unpaved, and muddy tracks are all they have when it rains. The nearest school is in village Chandiwala, while the nearest hospital is in Ferozepur. Perhaps the only facility that has reached them is power supply and radio and TV, bringing in some awareness. “We haven’t seen the development work the government often talks about. Though we have about 250 votes in all, we will vote only if we are assured of basic civic amenities,” says Faqir Chand, a village elder.
For the record, sitting MLA Sukhpal Singh Nannu of SAD will take on the Congress’s Parminder Singh Pinky from the Ferozepur constituency.