Chadong villagers still struggling for a livelihood
Though the artificial lake which had submerged Chagong village for around five years has receded with the opening of Mapithel dam, the villagers of Chadong are struggling for a livelihood till this day.
With the receding of the lake waters, it has caused a musty smell in the air and the area itself has become a breeding ground for several kinds of insects, thereby posing a threat to the health of the villagers. Members of Socialist Student Union Manipur (SSUM) and Manipur Proletariat Democratic Union (MPDU) today visited Chadong village and handed over life jackets to the villagers as they still have to cross the lake on a daily basis.
It was observed that with the receding of the waters, ground areas of 1 kilometre in distance which was previously under the lake, have been come up and it has caused much difficulty to the villagers to commute. The team struggled to cover the distance on foot as it was previously crossed with a boat when it was under water.
In a programme held to distribute the life jackets, the villagers expressed to media that there have been no new changes in their life though the water has receded. The situation is same for the villagers as they still have to struggle for a living. When the lake was full, some would do fishing while those who could afford to buy land would shift their households near water bodies and take up vegetable farming, they said.
They further expressed that though the water level has receded, they cannot come to a definite resolution concerning how to carry on with their life. The damp, musty smell from the ground is intolerable to many while mosquitoes and other insects are invading their lives, they said.
They further expressed their fear the prevailing condition may cause outbreak of diseases.
Before the lake was formed, the dry land areas of around Rs. 300 hectares were used for farming and the villagers enjoyed the rice harvested from their own resources. Now, they live on ‘superfine’ rice, they said.
The villagers further expressed, “the place has now turned into a tourist spot but the lake was created from our own tears.”
It may be mentioned that the village started getting submerged by the artificial lake around July 10, 2015. Though it was assured to the villagers that Mapithel Dam will never affect their lives, they have been turned into refugees. The rising water level of the lake submerged the village completely.
The water resource department issued repeated orders to remove the properties of the village and dismantle the church. “We will never destroy the church as it was constructed by the forefathers in the year 1935. Its centenary celebration will be observed soon,” said the villagers.
Though the children of the villagers are struggling to receive education, their plights remain unnoticed by any authority. No one has considered their grievances considering the absence of medical facilities and other patients who are lying sick.
In the meantime, the villagers are in dilemma as it would be a challenge to take a sick patient across receding lake. Even if the children somehow manages to go at schools, it would be impossible for them to continue education as there are no means of income for the parent to support them.
The boats being used to ferry across the lake are not owned by the government. They were provided after making several requests by the villagers. The five boats in the village were used as the sole means for bringing incomes to the villagers. Now, they need repairing and the villagers are struggling to do so.
The villagers expressed that it is the womenfolk who suffered the most. They struggle on a daily basis to cross the receding lake and sell whatever vegetables they have managed to grow in the village.
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