By-Subhasis K. Chanda :Homeless, Destitute — these epithets have hitherto been labelled upon the people of Chakbasta for a long span of their life. After a hard day’s toil, they returned home to houses that failed to keep the wind or rain out. Mending the walls and roof out of their very small earning was not possible. There was simply no other alternative, than to face the natural calamities along with their small kids and aged parents.
Till two years back, the economic face of Chakbasta under Abhaynagar village panchayat of Rishyamukh in south Tripura district looked dismal. Hopefully, the situation has undergone a change now.
The houses made under Indira Awaas Yojana are their permanent residence now. The people of Chakbasta are presently living in mud-walled, tin-roofed houses along with which every family has also received an area of four ‘Ganda’ each so as to help the family to earn out a living through cultivation. Under the beneficiary-oriented schemes and infrastructure development programmes, the department of Scheduled Caste Welfare of the State Government made settlements for 85 people comprising 20 families at Chakbasta.
One of the beneficiary, named Harichand Majumder, now a member of the Abhaynagar Gram Panchayat narrating his past days said that he was born landless and was sure that the landless tag could never be removed all his life. But after getting land and a house his long cherished dream had come true.
Prabesh Das, Tripata Das, Meera Nama and Shankar Nama also praised the project. The new village, Chakbasta stands near the Indo-Bangladesh international borders, at the side of the Srinagar road in Belonia. It covers an area of 60 hectares comprising hills as-well-as plains. In an area of 15 hectares of hilly land, houses under Indira Awaas Yojana have been constructed. The houses have been made spending Rs. 27,500 and along with it sanitation facilities have been provided.
For drinking water — two tubewells, have been installed. For bathing and other purposes, a big water body has been excavated. Besides, a 15-hectare land area has been made cultivable with the expense of Rs. 7 lakh from NREGA fund. Recently, every adult person has received a job card under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. With the farsighted outlook of the Block Development Authority, facilities for irrigation have been extended from Nalua diversion project to the paddy fields of Chakbasta through a 7 km long canal under AIBP scheme.
In entire Chakbasta, there is 350 hectares of land of which 45 hectare is being used for rice cultivation. A total of 15 hectare of land is hilly and barren. Since it is very close to the Bangladesh border the people were not keen on agriculture there. This too, has been taken care of by erecting barbed wire fencing. Now, all the 20 scheduled tribe families have started tilling every inch of land for agricultural purpose. One resident of the colony admitted that without the border fence, cultivation would not have been possible. Agricultural facility has been provided to the menfolk of the colony. With men in the village taking to cultivating the land the women are also not lagging behind as they too, have been provided with a cow and a poultry farm of 20 hens each.
With a growing culture of SHGs in the State, two groups are having their own vermi-compost units and renting out power tiller. Another interesting development is in the education sector. Where no elder of the village had ever stepped into a school, now all children of 6-14 years of age are regularly attending school. The dream of every villager here, is to see their children pursue higher study. Lately, the village panchayat has impressed upon the block authority to set up a primary school in the area under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and an Anganwadi centre. Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vaidyutikaran Yojana has brought electric light to the villagers. The people are also getting health care facility from Nalua sub-centre, two kms away.
According to 1997 economic census, in eleven community development blocks in the South district, 1,08,228 population were living below the poverty line. Out of this figure, a total of 68,865 families have been provided with houses under the Indira Awaas Yojana. In 2006-07, the number of families waiting for rural housing was 39,359. Of this, 2,511 families got rural housing and housing of 610 families has been upgraded. During 2007-08, the target to provide rural housing under IAY in the district was 3,357 of which 2112 houses have been distributed and 820 houses have been upgraded till December 2007. The fund for meeting the expenses of construction of houses has been fixed at Rs 33,900 by taking together the capital of NREGA and Indira Awaas Yojana. From now on the authority has decided to construct brick-walled housing under the Yojana.
*Media & Communications Officer, PIB, Agartala