Saturday, October 04, 2014

Gujarat Dalit villagers devoid of water connection for 24 yrs, what if Narmada pipeline is next to locality?

By Our Representative
In an overt case of caste discrimination in rural Gujarat, a Dalit locality, a kilometre from Vakhatpar village of Sayla taluka of Surendranagar district, set up about 24 years ago as part of the government’s “affirmative action” schemes for scheduled castes, even today does not have any drinking water facility, individual toilets, viable approach road and street lights. While a pipeline carrying Narmada river waters passes through the Kapelidhar area, where the Dalit locality is situated, the Gujarat government not provided any water connections. Nor is it connected with the huge overhead overhead tank, situated just 100 metres from there.
Bringing this to light, a representation to the district development officer (DDO) of Surendranagar district by the Safai kamdar Hakk Rakshak Samiti has said that about 15 Dalit families of the village were allocated housing plots about 24 years ago. Though the area is situated not very far from the highway towards Rajkot, the main city of Saurashtra region of Gujarat, “it remains in complete darkness at night”, it added: “The situation becomes especially precarious, because criminal elements have found the area is a dumping ground for murdered bodies here”. The representation gives specific instances to prove its point.
“Even for reconstructing our dilapidated houses, we must buy water instead of regular supply from the available sources”, the representation said, adding, “We wonder as to why no street lights facilities have been given to the locality, though power is supplied to the nearby farms. Electricity lamp posts should be set up in the locality immediately, so that people feel safe. Nor have we been given any funds to construct our independent toilets, despite the scheme which exists for it.” The Dalit families belong to the Valmiki sub-caste, many of whose family members are involved in manual scavenging in the nearby rural areas.
In the list of demands put forward before the DDO, the representation said, “An approach road, built in 1990 when we were allocated the plots, has not been repaired ever since. Our houses, built about two decades ago, are all crumbling down. They were built under the Jawahar Awas Yojna. We demand that the approach road to the village and the national highway should be rebuilt. Also, we should be included in the Ambedkar Awas Yojna, under which funds are allocated to individual Dalit families for rebuilding houses.”

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