Thursday June 20, 2019

Barsimaluguri: Story of transformation of an Assam village

Barsimaluguri village in Assam gets a new life, thanks to efforts by an NGO and villagers.

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School in village Barsimaluguri Picture from FB page : https://www.facebook.com/borsimaluguri/

Barsimaluguri village in Assam sees a transformation, thanks to civic engagement by an NGO Nanda Talukdar Foundation (NTF)

An insurgency-hit village in Assam’s Himalayan foothills where the residents long suffered stomach ailments due to the iron-contaminated water and only 10 percent of its around 250 households had proper sanitation facilities is now cited as the first ‘smart village’ in the entire northeast — thanks to two non-resident Assamese and a veteran journalist.

On the international border with Bhutan, Barsimaluguri village in Assam has just 234 families. It is Situated in Baksa district — one of the four Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

“It was a typical village — backward in every sense. A baseline study said only 10 percent (households) had sanitary toilets,” Mrinal Talukdar, a journalist with over 25 years of experience and who currently heads NGO Nanda Talukdar Foundation (NTF), told IANS from Guwahati.

The NTF, which has been involved since 2015 in direct grassroots intervention through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives by adopting backward villages and turning them into model villages, zeroed in on Barsimaluguri for its next project.

“We wanted an insurgency-infested yet reachable place from Guwahati within a radius of 150 km due to logistical reasons. We were interested in the north bank of the Brahmaputra river in the foothills of Bhutan… an area not many people venture out even today,” he said. The village in Baksa, 80 km from Guwahati, fit the bill.

Yarn Bank set up in the village Barsimaluguri.  Picture from FB page : https://www.facebook.com/borsimaluguri/
Yarn Bank set up in the village Barsimaluguri.
Picture from FB page : https://www.facebook.com/borsimaluguri/
 The foundation roped in Anirudh Goswami, working in Delhi, and Surajit Dutta, based in Bengaluru, for a project to turn backward Barsimaluguri into a modern village full of facilities.

Goswami provided technical and organisational support to the NTF, which managed to convince a leading financial PSU to fund the initiative while Dutta served as the project leader.

The NTF project was shortlisted by Himachal Pradesh-based consultancy HIMCON, which in turn roped in donor India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) to underwrite it.

Talukdar said the foundation decided to work on 4-5 aspects to make it a model village — safe drinking water, total sanitation, alternative power, skill development and employment generation besides improving facilities for sports and education.

And the results are evident — solving the problem of its metal-tainted water, Barsimaluguri has now become the first village in Assam to have a reverse osmosis (RO) plant which can deliver 500 litres of standard mineral water in an hour, while nearly half the households have got new sanitary toilets.

“The RO plant is managed by the villagers. They pay Rs.120 per month and take 20 litres of water a day. Which means 20 paisa per litre. They spend the money on salaries and upkeep,” said Talukdar.

“In a bid to end open defecation, the project, surmounting the challenges of logistics and quality manpower and heavy monsoon, constructed 100 toilets in the village. We have covered almost 50 percent of the total households,” he said, adding that they were “proud” to be associated with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

The brightest part of the intervention was the solar energy component — 100 houses were given solar kits and 75 streetlights were installed making Barsimaluguri the envy of every neighbouring village as it remains illuminated the whole night.

Talukdar says the project simultaneously moved to improve human resource, with a series of camps held for legal awareness, women empowerment, child development and skill development through the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship.

“It’s now time for us to pack up. We have identified another village, Jajimukh in Jorhat district. Now the hunt is on for a sponsor — that is the most difficult part,” he said.

“Every project has its challenges. Barsimaluguri had the challenge of the (Bodo militant group) NDFB and Jajimukh will have problems of transportation as there is no direct road there and one has to reach the village by boat,” he said.

The foundation has a broad palette of activities — starting with preservation of 19th century books, it now visits about 400 villages a year to conducts social audit of self-help groups developed by the State Institute of Rural Development and is also developing a teaching module on coverage of children and women for journalists with help from Unicef.

“Now Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) has given us three villages in the vicinity of Golaghat to transform into smart villages and develop a sustainable model of livelihood,” says Talukdar. IANS

(Prantick Majumder can be contacted at prantick.m@ians.in)

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    After being ignored by Indian government and media at least something good is happening with the efforts of NGO .. Being a part of India, the people of north-east are ignored.. When Anna ji was fasting, media was actively covering each incident but nobody knows about Irom Sharmila who is fasting since more than 60 years to protest against AFSPA.. Also, after the Nirbhaya incident everyone was criticising the culprits but does anyone know about Thangjam Manorama? Is anyone aware of the Assam floods of September 2015 which left over 2 lakhs people homeless.. Most of us don’t.. as media was busy in covering Sheena Bohra murder case..

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Great to hear that utmost care of cleanliness is taken in Hingol pilgrimage…Many pilgrimages in India are unfortunately unclean

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  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    After being ignored by Indian government and media at least something good is happening with the efforts of NGO .. Being a part of India, the people of north-east are ignored.. When Anna ji was fasting, media was actively covering each incident but nobody knows about Irom Sharmila who is fasting since more than 60 years to protest against AFSPA.. Also, after the Nirbhaya incident everyone was criticising the culprits but does anyone know about Thangjam Manorama? Is anyone aware of the Assam floods of September 2015 which left over 2 lakhs people homeless.. Most of us don’t.. as media was busy in covering Sheena Bohra murder case..

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Great to hear that utmost care of cleanliness is taken in Hingol pilgrimage…Many pilgrimages in India are unfortunately unclean

Next Story

Assam Launches Campaign to Control Diarrhoea Across the State

Diarrhoea can be prevented with safe drinking water, sanitation, proper breastfeeding/appropriate nutrition and hand-washing

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Similarly, the total quantity of tea exports during the 2017-18 fiscal increased by 28.94 million kg or 12.71 per cent as compared to the last corresponding period. The tea exports stood at 227.63 million kg in 2016-17.
Tea Garden in India, wikimedia commons

The National Health Mission, Assam on Tuesday launched the Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF) campaign and will be targeting at least 34 lakh children across the state.

The fortnight will be observed from May 28 to June 9 this year, officials said on Tuesday, adding the IDCF was launched and observed across the state by district health societies and block level units at all health institutes.

During this fortnight campaign, frontline health workers and other departments stakeholders will be sensitized to prioritize investment in control of diarrhoea, one of the most common childhood illnesses. It aims to create mass awareness about the most scientific, effective and economic diarrhoea treatment” a combination of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) solution and zinc tablets, officials said.

Woman plucking tea in a tea plantation of Assam.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Intensified community awareness activities on hygiene and promotion of ORS and zinc therapy for treatment of diarrhea will be conducted at state, district and village levels. More than 34 lakh cildren will be targeted in this fortnight campaign,” said an official.

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It may be mentioned here that almost all the deaths due to diarrhoea can be averted by preventing and treating dehydration by use of ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) and administration of zinc tablets along with adequate nutritional intake by the child.

Diarrhoea can be prevented with safe drinking water, sanitation, proper breastfeeding/appropriate nutrition and hand-washing. (IANS)