Deban, on the verge of development

 

Deban a beautiful place situated 32 kms from Diyun in the heart of the Namdhapa Wildlife Sanctuary,Arunachal Pradesh surrounded by steep hills and the swift Noa-Dehing river was a remote and backward place some 8-10 years back down the line with no proper road communications, electricity and nearly zero economic activities. There are about 8 villages in this region all of which comes under the sub-division of Miao. The region is mostly populated with the Chakmas. Due to some recent developments in the area made possible by some foreign NGOs the region today is making fast track changes in all terms.

Earlier, the whole region only had a Primary School which was later upgraded to Middle School with the establishment of Private Primary Schools by the villagers on their own self. Now, one can find at least one school whether Government aided school or a private school collectively run by the villagers in every village. The region saw its first electricity supply this year and two of the 8 villages are enjoying electricity namely Punyabhumi and Pakhan. The service lines are being drawn beyond Pakhan which is the second village and Punyabhumi being the first. The laying works are still in progress. Though, the works of laying electricity is in progress the road to Deban from Diyun is no better than a perilous journey.

The old road which once connected Diyun with Deban has long been shattered due to massive landslides and difficulties in maintenance due to the extreme conditions during monsoon and lack of proper aids during the winters. It is also difficult to run heavy vehicles such as a ruler in this region as most of the soil is sandy and full of pebbles which make it risky with the risk of more landslides resulting from pressure. Recently, it was proposed to build a new road towards Deban bypassing the old road. The old road has been kept almost abandoned since long. Only during the winters that some light vehicles ply from Diyun of carrying light amounts goods. However, despite of all these recent developments, many children are still missing schools due to ignorance, lack of knowledge about the importance of education and lack of knowledge about the outer world as some of the villagers still never saw a proper town in their lifetime.

In the whole region, there is not even a single Community Health Centre or a pharmacy or either a Primary Health Centre. The villagers have to walk all the way some 30-40 kms. to get medical care either at Miao or at Diyun which becomes impossible during the monsoon due to heavy rains, landslides and the ever flooding Noa-Dehing river. In all, good medical care is beyond their dreams. So is their market. The villagers again have to walk the same distance to sell or buy goods either at Miao or at Diyun. If everything goes steady fast as proposed, then some years later, Deban shall become a paradise for the tourists as it does have the potential to be! Miao ghat on Dihing River A view of the sun rise In my recent visit to Karbi Anglong, I, once again, gained some surprising insights about the residing Chakma people. Invited by the Village Headman ofKali Nala, a Chakma village, I went to a small township and a weekly market locally known as Barlangfer. From there I went further to a sparsely populated village named Tokkre Nal, walking some 10 – 1 5 km on a route which can hardly qualify for a road and has no means of transportation.

During my interactions, I came to know of some 25 – 30 families ofwhich only five are living nearby and the rest are scattered over several hilltops. Inspired by the efforts of Dr. AB Chakma, The Gaon Bura(GB) of late, they have agreed to build a proper village and some have even started putting up their niches but, these stilt houses, made out of bamboos, wood and straws, lack basic requirements of a permanent residency. Through our conversations about the administration of the villages, I realized about their lack of trust on the leaders. They argue that since the leaders themselves disagree to live amongst them in the village, then how the leaders can expect the public to build a village, which they are anyhow building for the sake of their GB.

With no education system, no healthcare amenities, and no modes of communication, the villagersâ only source of income are chillies. Cultivating meagre amount of staple foods such as rice and other vegetables, they have to buy all needed resources from the market at high prices. Consequently, if not all of the population, then at least those Chakmas of the village with whom I interacted, have no motivation to live here permanently and they plan to migrate as soon as they acquire enough resources through their one and only hope- red-chillies. Surprisingly and yet expectedly these chillies are sold back to the person from whom the villagers take their loans, making it very convenient for the money lenders to cheat people by setting unfair prices much lower than the actual market rates. I also attended a meeting by the villagers addressing their difficulties and possibilities. Held on the 13th of Jan 2014, meetingâs main agenda was to build villages according to the old brazen villages and prepare an agenda to ask the Govt. to provide all the needed amenities. However, due to internal scepticism of the leadership, the gathering was not effective

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