Hill Voice, 8 September 2020, Tangail: Garo housewife Eva Sangma of Jalabada village was in labor pains at 12 o’clock at night. The distance from Madhupur Upazila Sadar to Jalabada is 18 kilometers. Its eight kilometers is not just a dirt road, but a walking path through the Gajari forest. Eva Sangma gave birth in a secluded forest on her way to the Upazila Hospital on a bicycle on such a remote road.
Critical patients carrying on their shoulders often die without treatment. Lawrence Nokrek, an NGO worker from Jalabada, was describing the plight of the hill people of Madhupur Garh. Garos live in Chunia, Joynagachha, Bandaria, Kejai, Beduria, Kankraguni, Sadhupara, Ponamari, Harindhara to the west of Jalabada and Sataria, Chanpur and Bijaypur villages to the east.
Sholakuri Union Parishad member Bixon Nokrek said people are deprived of development as these villages are bordering Madhupur in Tangail, Muktagachha in Mymensingh and Jamalpur Sadar Upazila. As the Tangail Forest Department obstructed the construction of roads here, people without communication system, education and digital technology lived a medieval life.
Eugene Nokrek, President of the Joyenshahi Indigenous Development Council, said the Telki-Beduria road could not be built due to obstruction by the forest department. As an alternative, if 12 km long road from Bijaypur of Muktagachha via Chunia via Sadhupara-Jalabada is bult, it would have made it easier to communicate. But the forest department is also interfering there. The forest department has forgotten that the forest dwellers also live in the forest.
Anis, a lemon trader, said LGED in Muktagachha Upazila had also built a bridge over the Banar river at Chanpur and a two-kilometer Gabtali-Chanpur road. If that part of Madhupur upazila had connectivity with this part, alternative communication to Mymensingh and Dhaka would have made easier.
Mission school teacher Nitila Chiran said, “Mission school is the main institution of education here.” But in the rainy season, due to the bad condition of the roads, the children do not come and go to school for three consecutive months.
Dulal Khubi of Beduria said that due to the fragile transport system, 5,000 acres of pineapple, banana and lemon were destroyed. Garo women entrepreneur Munmun Nokrek said Garo students could not follow online classes when they returned home due to lack of mobile network in the area.
Sholakuri Union Parishad Chairman Akhter Hossain said LGED has decided to build 10 km of roads under the ‘Tangail Project’ to alleviate communication problems.
Mollah Mizanur Rahman, Director of the Tangail project, said the forest department did not take into account the plight of the people. As a result, despite the budget, the road is not being built. Tangail Divisional Forest Officer Zahirul Haque said no other government agency could build roads on the Forest Department land without an inter-ministerial decision. If the government gives budget, these roads can be built under the supervision of forest department.