Two years on, young girl in Karnataka waits for PM’s promise to come true
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded in December 2016 to a letter by young Namana G. two months after she wrote to him appealing for better facilities such as roads, a school, health services and phone connectivity for her village, senior leaders and officers swiftly reached Alekhan Horatti and swung into action. But two and a half years after they interacted with villagers and conducted surveys for roadwork, nothing has changed.
Ms. Namana, who appeared recently for her II pre-university exam, was instrumental in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) directing the Chikkamagaluru Zilla Panchayat and other agencies to look into her complaint. The Hindu carried a report on this in December 2016.
On Thursday, this correspondent returned to Alekhan Horatti to see if the problems that Ms. Namana highlighted had been solved.
Alekhan Horatti, nestled in the Charmadi Ghats about 25 km from Mudigere town, has no connectivity to the world outside. There is a narrow road, about 8 ft. wide, but it’s not motorable. Even two-wheelers have difficulty negotiating the route to the village, leaving its residents to hike 4 km on foot to reach the Mudigere-Mangaluru Road. Vokkaligas and Malekudiyas, a tribal community, live in the about 35 houses here, tending to coffee plantations spread over three to eight acres.
The lone government lower primary school in the village was closed six years ago owing to fall in student strength. Now, parents send their children to residential schools in nearby towns as soon as they are old enough to study in class I.
Following the Prime Minister’s direction, a mobile health clinic with a doctor, made possible by the district administration with the support of an NGO, visits Alekhan Horatti every Saturday.
Zilla panchayat officials prepared an estimate of ₹10.8 crore for a 11-km road connecting the village of Javali with the Kottigehara-Mangaluru Road via Alekhan Horatti. Jokim Kodera, Panchayat Development Officer of Javali Gram Panchayat, of which Alekhan Horatti is a part, said the estimate had not been approved.
“It is a huge amount and we need special funds for such projects. We have about ₹15 lakh for work under the MNREGA, but people hardly take up work under this scheme,” he said.
Ms. Namana’s mother Pavithra, a social health activist, explained, “We were all hopeful that things would improve after the Prime Minister’s intervention. Scores of officers visited our village back then. But look at the road now — it has remained as it was two years ago.”
Searching for good network
With little phone connectivity, residents of Alekhan Horatti suspend their cellphones in plastic bags from a roof, to get network. One such plastic bag was hanging from the roof in front of the entrance to Veerappa Gowda’s house. “This is one such elevated place where we get network. We can take calls here, sometimes,” Mr. Gowda said.
Since Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. did not improve its landline services, all residents discontinued the facility.
H.S. Gopal, a resident, said: “We get calls from our children [away in residential schools], but we often can’t speak to them because of poor connectivity.” In her letter to the PM, Ms. Namana had listed network connectivity as one of the problems faced. This remains unresolved.
Mr. Gowda’s neighbours, too, have suspended their phones outside his entrance.