Cut off, Ropar village stuck in time warp
A village in Anandpur Sahib block, bordering Himachal Pradesh, has been virtually disowned by the state. Kallar village on the Kiratpur Sahib-Naina Devi road, with a population of 530, is yet to get basic facilities. There is no drinking water supply, let alone education or healthcare facilities.
For potable water, people have to rely on a hand pump fitted with an electric motor outside the village. For other purposes, people have to import water in tankers from Dehni village near Kiratpur Sahib at a cost of Rs 1,000 for 2,000 litre.
Besides, about 60 children from the village have no choice but to go to schools in neighbouring villages of Himachal Pradesh, at least 6 km away. For health facilities, people have to travel at least 30 km to Anandpur Sahib. There is no anganwadi centre or veterinary dispensary at the village.
Though the village is a part of Punjab, none of the residents can read or write Punjabi as their schooling has been from Himachal Pradesh. “Senior citizens of the village have to travel to Anandpur Sahib by changing at least three buses to draw their pension,” said Banta Singh, who claimed to be 101 years old.
The village has no direct road connectivity with the state. The nearest village of Punjab here is Samlah, for which one has to traverse a distance of about 4 km of a hilly terrain covered with thick forest. It takes at least two hours for a two-way journey on foot for a healthy person. The motorable distance between both villages is 45 km.
Ironically, the state authorities have ensured a liquor vend for the villagers.
Residents say their village comes to the notice of state officials or politicians only during elections for votes. They allege not even a single MP from the area has ever visited their village after elections. “The only politician who visited the village was Tara Singh Ladal, who was state Education Minister before his defeat in the 2002 Assembly elections. Otherwise, all Assembly election candidates visit the village during their election campaign and forget it thereafter,” rues Babu Ram, a septuagenarian sitting near a roadside grocery shop.
“Fortunately, the Himachal Pradesh Government agreed to supply electricity to the village as four families among Bhakhra Dam oustees settled here, otherwise people would have not got that facility too,” said Babu Ram.
Another problem is the village panchayat is clubbed with that of Samlah village. A person has to travel at least 45 km and change four buses to meet the Sarpanch, who belongs to Samlah,” said Prem Kumar, a youth from the village.
When contacted, Anandpur Sahib water supply executive engineer HPS Dhillon when contacted claimed the work of supplying drinking water to the village was in progress. He said within the next few months, government water supply would be made available to the village. Anandpur Sahib SDM Amarjeet Bains said he would visit the village and take appropriate action to redress the grievances of people.