Padmini Badnayak, a Bharat Nirman volunteer has been visiting Lariapalli since 2015.
Each and every day I only pray for three things. The first that a road is constructed to connect the village to the rest of the country, a hospital is constructed to take care of the health issues of villagers and the last being that a mobile tower comes up so that our mobile phones — which are otherwise as good as useless — start working,” says 70 year old Jugal Kishore Mahto from Lariapalli gram panchayat, block Bamrah, Sambalpur district of Odisha.
From Ghunghuti Chowk, which is the last tarred road, to the Panchayat Bhawan, the distance is seven km. The road is a forest road and comes under the jurisdiction of the forest department. The villagers say that because it is a forest road the rural works department and the panchayati raj don’t want to take the responsibility of making the road. There is no health centre in the village and the villagers have to travel eight-nine km to reach the nearest government hospital, which also does not have any proper facilities.
Padmini Badnayak, a Bharat Nirman volunteer has been visiting Lariapalli since 2015. She rides a scooty and travels almost 80 km from Sambalpur. Narrating her experience she says: “It is extremely difficult to travel to and from Lariapalli, especially during the monsoon season as the roads get submerged in water and become slushy and one can easily skid and get injured. Even travelling during night is not possible as it turns frighteningly dark. To add to the road problem there is no mobile connectivity. If you get stuck somewhere in the jungle, you cannot even make a call to anyone.”
Surya Chandra Pani, block social services officer (BSSO), Lariapalli, Bamrah says: “When I have to come to Lariapalli, I make sure that I inform my family and my colleagues so that they know that my phone will not be reachable and will not get unnecessarily worried.” He adds: “More funds should be allocated for the development of interior areas as there is still a lot work to be done here. The line departments are neglecting these areas.”
Shukru Kujur, sarpanch of Lariapalli says: “There has been a long-standing demand for proper road connectivity and also network connectivity to the village.” After a lot of persuasion and cajoling as to the reason behind the problem of connectivity he says: “The forest department has given a no-objection certificate for the construction of the road. The panchayat has written to the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana on many occasions to sanction money to build the road but nothing has happened till now.”
Odisha is very well developed and the roads and mobile network connectivity in most parts of the state can be termed as fairly good or in some places excellent. One wonders why the people of Lariappali are being neglected and are there more such villages — not just in Odisha, but in the rest of the country — that need attention of the government. At the Sustainable Development summit on September 25, 2015, UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. SDG nine states: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation and target 9.1 states. Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
— Charkha Features