SAMIR BHAT | NT
Villagers in areas under the jurisdiction of Netravali village panchayat are facing hardships as there is lack of basic facilities. Erratic electricity supply, shortage of potable water, lack of medical and communication facilities are some of the issues faced.
Netravali, which is one of the biggest village panchayats in Sanguem taluka, consists of remote and hilly areas of Nune, Savari, Vichundrem, Salgini, Tudav, Verlem, Neturlim village, Dambokhod, Khutiwada, Bonliwada, Vargaon, Karkem, Margowado, Gawaliwada etc.
There is a rural medical dispensary (RMD) at Neturlim but it lacks medical facilities. A doctor from the Sanguem PHC visits the RMD 6 days in a week from 10 am to 12.30 pm along with a pharmacist and a peon. The pharmacist comes all the way from Balli, Cuncolim. On an average about 40 patients visit the RMD.
There is a sub-health centre in the remote hilly area of Verle. The doctor visits the sub-health centre once a month. During other days, patients are taken to Neturlim RMD and after first aid treatment they are shifted to the Sanguem PHC based at the Neturlim police outpost.
When contacted, health officer of Sanguem PHC Dr Sima Pai Fondekar said that the centre is understaffed with a doctor’s post vacant since 2014. At present, there are only 4 doctors working at the PHC, out of which one doctor is sent to RMD, Neturlim and in case of emergency, he too does not visit the Neturlim RMD, she said.
Power outages are also a major problem for villagers especially during rainy season. It is learnt that the overhead wires have not been changed for the last 25 years. In some areas, electricity poles have broken and instead of replacing them, overhead wires have been fastened to nearby trees.
There is an office for linemen at Neturlim with some eight linemen deputed in the village. However, a visit to the office revealed that basic electricity material required to restore electricity supply were missing. Inquiries revealed that though there are equipments for cutting bushes and tree branches they are in a pathetic condition. The linemen are allegedly not provided with safety tools including hand gloves, raincoats etc, there is also no full-time vehicle.
When contacted, AE K M Sasi at Sanguem office maintained that everything is in place. But when the issues were brought to his notice, he said the problems will be resolved when the work of underground laying of cables is completed. Initial survey for this work has been done and the estimated cost of the project will be about Rs 33.50 crore. The work is expected to be completed by June 2021, he said.
An aggrieved villager Raju Devidas said that villagers especially housewives are most affected due to the erratic power supply as they are unable to use appliances like mixers, grinders, washing machines, iron, fans etc that work on electricity.
A college student Nachita Gaonkar said that recently there was no power supply continuously for six days with villagers including students badly hit as they failed to gain information from mobiles due to the disconnection of internet. Children, senior citizens and offices goers are also badly affected due to the power failures. Due to poor service, villagers have disconnected the landline phones, only mobiles having BSNL connection work, she said.
Villagers complained that these areas are affected by drinking water shortage during the month of April, May and June every year. But, water bills are issued regularly.
Deputy sarpanch of Neturlim Abhijit Dessai said that there are many options before the government if it is committed to help the villagers. One option is adopting solar system. Secondly, generators can be provided to villagers at subsidised rates. It can also install windmills. Salgini area is ideal for this purpose and the government needs to conduct a study on this subject, he said.
He further demanded that the government upgrade the RMD at Neturlim into a PHC. The villagers have to travel a distance of about 40 kms to reach the Sanguem PHC. The PHC at Neturlim will be a central place to all villagers including from the remote and hilly areas, he said.