Kadori Khatun, an 11-year-old homeless Kanyashree girl, runs a tea stall to support her semi-blind parents who live under a banyan tree by the Kuye river bank at Angerpur village.
At the stall, Kadori in her school uniform writhes in pain as her little fingers struggle to hold the scorching teapot that tumbled pouring the red-hot tea on her left heel. Kadori and her elder sister, Adori sustain their parents who live in Bharatpur-I block in Murshidabad. They have no latrine but instead Kuye, the rain-fed river.
Angerpur, an area that has been officially declared as open defecation free, the abject life of Kadori are shared by many. There are many such residents who have settled along the earthen dyke made to prevent floods from the river. Their neighbours like Jamadar Sheikh, Anarul Sheik and Subodh Sheikh decry equal misery.
They are a few among the have-nots who were displaced due to floods over the years only to become part of settlements that sprang up either across the slopes of KandiBharatpur state highway or along the anti-afflux dam in areas like Angarpur, said Kamalesh Chatterjee, former MLA from Bharatpur. The TMC MLA from Burwan, Jiban Krishna Saha told The Statesman, “The rehabilitation plans are afoot. The flood victims would be properly resettled.” A large tract of areas along the Kuye embankment comes under Burdwan constituency.
“I am not aware of the toilet issue because I was elected MLA a few months back this year,” he added. Women complained that toilets weren’t built even after depositing funds (beneficiary’s contribution) as claimed by the government agencies against matching grants for construction of concrete toilets at households.
“I have deposited Rs 3,200 long back for my toilet. But haven’t got it yet,” said Kamala Bibi from Angerpur. A widow, Reneja Bewa said that she deposited has Rs 3,200 about three years ago but authorities did not construct a toilet so far. A local resident, Amina Khatun’s echoed Bewa and so did Rina Bewa, a widow.
The block development officer of Bharatpur-I block denied commenting. Ratan Sheikh, a TMC loyalist, said, “I get the free ration of our state government. I have a clay cottage but without a toilet. I have my name registered in the beneficiaries’ list. The delay to make the toilet seems
to be never-ending.”