By Dr. P. K. Jena in Bhubaneswar, August 12, 2017 : Rainy season in Odisha and other parts of India comes during June to September for providing water to our ponds, tanks and rivers as well as helping the farmers to grow crops and vegetables. But at the same time it also brings a lot of miseries to the crores of people as most of the rural areas are undeveloped. Due to want of pitched or cement roads, large number of people live in places surrounded by water all around.

In these rural areas, people for earning their livelihood are compelled to go in these water bodies in nearby places for work every morning and evening. Similarly, children to distant schools and old and sick people to nearby hospitals for treatment go through these water bodies either walking in waist dip water or swimming with the help of wooden planks or rubber tubes etc.

      Pregnant woman being carried to hospital         on  bamboo shaft in Odisha

Most of the time, the sick and old people and the pregnant women have to be carried by their relatives in cots or baskets to distant urban hospitals for their treatment due to lack of medical facilities and want of communication system, Even after reaching a pitched road, due to want of any Ambulance the patients die on the road. The miseries do not end here.

During the rainy season due to want of proper drinking water, the villagers particularly the old and children suffer from various types of water borne diseases. In this way these people lead their life with various miseries and sufferings.

Practically being cut off from outside the rich urban areas, they are deprived from many essential items for their living. The hopeless circumstance never allows them even to dream about any luxury. The sickly children eating boiled rice on a aluminium plate with flies all around, is a common sight in many rural areas.

When you see these horrifying scenes with dilapidated living places, tears come into your eyes. This type of pathetic sight in India after 70 years of independence is really a shame to all of us. Under this circumstance, we cannot boast that, we have been able to elevate the standard of living of the rural people who are about 70% of us.

In view of this, on this 15th August 2017, let the state governments vow to give highest priority to elevate the standard of living of the rural mass through various essential programmes including construction of pitched or concrete roads with better transport facilities, establishment of medical centers with proper facilities and doctors for taking the health care and construction of large number of bore wells for providing drinking water to every village throughout the year.

We are sure that there is no dearth of funds for such rural developmental programmes but it is necessary to implement these with sincerity and honesty.

Let all the state governments make it a point that, by the 15th August 2018 such pathetic plights of rural people will be a matter of the past. They have been given the hope for last 70 years, now they want action. Thus, let every citizen of independent India get the opportunity to live life gracefully.

*Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India