Homecoming: Village bordering China springing back to life

[ Sonam Jelly ]

ITANAGAR, 26 Mar: For decades, due to lack of road connectivity and impassable vegetation hampering human survival, the people of Berali, Abali, Induli and other villages in Mipi circle of Dibang Valley district were forced to move towards the town.

Survival was hard, and the narrow manmade road and flooded rivers during monsoon made it more difficult for the villagers. They had to travel for almost two days, covering a distance of 38 kms on foot, to the town to grab a bag of rice and other needs.

With no option left, and owing to concern for their children, the villagers slowly started moving towards the town in search of a better life, with all their belongings.

With the passage of time, the villages became totally empty, with no human existence. One could not find a single hut in the last village, Berali.

However, in 2022, as the villages were connected with motorable roads, it was time for the parents and their children to return home, cherish their good old childhood memories, and look after their ancestral land.

There are 13 villages that come under Mipi circle. Berali is the last village. It shares international border with China and is yet to be connected by road.

Brangu village HGB Tocha Mipi still believes that, as soon as the ongoing bridge construction is completed, the villagers will automatically come back to their homes.

Today, with better roads providing better transportation facilities, and support from the district administration, the villagers are happy that they can grow vegetables and other commercial crops in their once-abandoned fields. Apart from harvesting kiwi and green leafy veggies, the villagers are also rearing pigs and other animals.

The village had many houses earlier. There are six now, but with better road connectivity, many of those who had left are planning on homecoming. Most of the families that have returned to their village are happy and do not hold many complaints against the state government.

Besides the PMGSY roads, the construction of a highway under a border roads project is in full swing. The villagers praised local MLA Mopi Mihu for being more inclined towards overall development and welfare of the rural areas of the district.

The villagers are positive that the entire district will soon be connected with better roads to the rest of the districts after the recent sanctioning of the 1,500-km Frontier Highway project to connect all the border areas of the state from east to west, and about 1,000 kms of interconnecting roads between the highways, by the union ministry of road, transport & highways.

Now, the only concerns for the villagers are potable drinking water and cellular network. Airtel towers have been installed in many areas of Anini town but are yet to be functional, and while a few villages have availed the facilities under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), some said that they have been denied the scheme.

Officials said that some villages have too few people to be eligible for the JJM. However, the agency is working to ensure that every household in every border village is provided with potable drinking water. The people believe that, with time and effort by the local MLA and the authorities concerned, every basic facility will soon be provided to them. (The writer is a journalist based in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh.)