Sunday, February 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No teacher, no doctor, no grant
Plight of villages in Punjab
From Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

MOONAK (Sangrur), Feb 18 — A maternity centre without medical and paramedical staff and medicines; a primary school without government teachers; a veterinary hospital without a doctor; a water supply scheme sans water. Sounds unbelievable, but is true.

If you still do not believe it, come to Badalgarh village, near here. You will see the ground realities. What is true in case of this village, is almost similar to the case of the nearby village of Rajalheri and Dudian.

As the Badal Government completed three years, the TNS team visited three villages — Badalgarh, Rajalheri and Dudian — to find out whether the Badal government had made any difference to the life of the villagers. This is the area where a large number of farmers had committed suicide in recent years due to the debt burden. On the completion of its three years, the Badal Government had made tall claims regarding the overall development of the state. However, the tale of these villages belie the claims made by the government.

Badalgarh, having a population of about 2000, is located on the right side of the Patran-Moonak road. It has got no grant for development for more than an year. As far as the availability of infrastructure is concerned, the details are impressive. The village has a maternity centre, a water supply scheme, a Mahila Mandal, brick-paved streets, a metalled road passing through its heart and an open sullage drain.

“Hai tan sabh kuch, per chalda nee, eh euan agg laoana” (we have everything but nothing is functioning), says Baldev Singh, while pointing towards the school, the maternity centre, the water works etc.

For the past about two years, there is no staff in the maternity centre. There is no medicine. The building by and large remains locked. Assuming the building was an abandoned one, some officials engaged in the construction of the Focal Point buildings, had started demolishing it. The Health Department, which has otherwise failed to provide medical services in the village, reacted quickly to the situation and forced the Focal Point staff to restore the demolished portion, according to villagers. The Focal Point also remains a non-starter. The demand to expand the grain market yard has not been met so far.

Having nearly 75 children on its rolls, the government primary school has no teacher. Parents of children have engaged a local girl to teach in the school. “We pay salary to the girl from our pockets for the sake of our wards”, say Mohan Singh and other parents.

Talking about the veterinary hospital, Mr Rajwinder Singh, a former Sarpanch and Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, said that sick animals were attended to by a Class IV employee of the hospital. Other employees visit the hospital once or twice a week.

Have you ever complained to the government about the prevailing sorry state of affairs? Where is the Government? asked Mr Mishra Singh, a Nambardar of the village sarcastically, posing a counter question. “If you saw it (government), tell it to send teachers, medical staff and veterinary staff to our village. “We have given panchayat land to construct the school, dispensary, Focal Point, veterinary hospital and water works but what have we got in return: a non-functioning system,” Mr Mishra Singh says.

“Look towards the water works,” says Mr Baldev Singh, “ We have not got even a single drop of water from it since its inception over 10 years ago”, he laments. There is also a pool of stinking sullage water. “The drain has been left incomplete due to ‘partibazi’ (groupism) in the village and ‘gandh’ (dirt) has been left to accumulate and stink, “ he further says.

Mr Rajwinder Singh has sought a high-level probe into the alleged irregularities in the non-functioning of the scheme.

The Mahila Mandal has also been set up in the village. However, no staff has been sent to give training to village girls in tailoring etc though a promise was made by the officials concerned. The condition of the village road is deplorable at many places.

Rajalheri is just 2 km from Badalgarh. This village has got no grant from the government for development during the past two years. The Sarpanch of the villager, Mr Sukhjinder Singh alias Pinki, says that the primary school in the village remained without a teacher for four years. Only after repeated representation by the Sarpanch, a teacher was sent on deputation to the school.

Realising that the arrangement made by the government as undependable , parents of children have engaged a local woman to teach their wards. They pay salary to her from their pockets. For constructing a Dalit dharmsala, the panchayat has offered a piece of land to the authorities concerned and revenue documents have also been submitted to them. But there is no response from the government , says Mr Sukhjinder Singh. The village is linked with the water supply scheme of Badalgarh village but it has also not got a drop of water for the past many years. Though the panchayat had given a building to set up a telephone exchange, no rent has been paid to the panchayat by the Telecom Department.

Almost similar is the fate of Dudian village, located at a short distance from Rajalheri. As there is no government teacher in the primary school, parents in Dudian village have employed four girls for teaching the children. They , too, are paid by the parents. Two teachers working in the middle school have also been engaged by the parents. The building of the village cooperative society is lying unused since its construction about a decade ago. Though pipes have been laid about a decade ago to supply water, it is yet to reach the village.


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