<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 2,300 odd natives of two backward villages in Nandod constituency of Narmada district are eagerly waiting for the elections to get over.Immediately after exercising their electoral right on December 9, about 35 to 40% men and women of these two villages will migrate to Bharuch and Ankleshwar join work in the construction sector and chemical factories. Their only hope, return home with some savings on Holi. The unfortunate ones will head to nearby Rajpipla to work as labourers in the farms of affluent Patidars. A handful of the fortunate ones will harvest crops of Tuvar and Peanuts, fetching them some respite.”We should be moving now as there is nothing to do here. The farms have dried up. There is no facility to irrigate except rains. But, elections ensure good food and some other benefits for four to five days,” says Suresh Dalsukh Vasava, a marginal farmer in Palsi.However, there are many who stay back in the village to cast their vote.Last Sunday, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had addressed a huge gathering of tribals turned Ambarish (devotees of Swaminarayan sect) in Haridham Sokhada near Vododara, where they were told that Hindu Dharma was in danger for which they need to canvass and ensure BJP’s win.”We will ensure good voting. We need to save our religion,” says Haribhai Lalji Vasava, an Ambarish. Early inroads by Swaminarayan sect at the time of constructing Mandir in nearby Netrang, the Christian missionaries were unable to set up schools in these regions and the surrounding villages of Khunta Amba, Moji and Bitada et cetera, thereby reflecting educational backwardness. In stark comparison, the Zankhvav village, located at a distance of 40 odd kilometres, is saturated with graduates.”The difference was brought about by St. Xavier’s High School. It changed our lives,” says Shirish Vasava, a teacher at Palsi primary school. There is only one graduate to boast about in Palsi that has a population of 778 as per 2011 census. Palsi has a primary school where there are only three teachers to educate 77 kids. The two-room school, which is awaiting grant for the past several years, is yet to be covered with syntax walls and brick structures.The malnourished kids, who are suffering from vitamin C and protein deficiencies, look at least two years younger than their urban counterparts.Also, the liquor consumption among the youth is quite high. Many children like Rekha Ramji Vasava, whose mother left her liquor-addict husband, has learnt to do all household chores at the age of 7.There is a middle school two kilometres away at Moti Bhamri, but the children studying in higher secondary (HS) classes have to travel at least 5 kilometres on foot to go to Movi. At times, they have to travel by bus for around 30 kilometres to reach Rajpipla, where there is another HS school. The secondary school in Movi is in shambles with no walls and only covered by a thatched roof. Despite the pathetic condition, the girls prefer going there.These villages also suffer from acute power shortage and poor network connectivity. The transport and irrigation facilities are non-existent.The villages had no power supply for two months after their transformer exploded in August. Finally, it was repaired just before the announcement of elections. The villages get only 15-16 hours of electric supply daily.To solve the irrigation problem, BJP MLA Harshad Vasava had inaugurated a generator and laid pipelines for irrigation on the banks of Karjan river in 2011. It has been seven years since and the term of current BJP MLA Shabdarshan Tadvi is about to end. However, neither the generator has started working, nor there is any water in the pipelines.”Our fields remain dry as the water level is below 400 feet and boring is very costly. We get potable water from hand pumps,” says Jhivar Jeevan Vasava. Among the few graduates of Moti Bhamri, Vasava is trying for a job since last three years, but ends up doing sundry work in factories.”It is a difficult choice. You get a daily wage between Rs 350 and Rs 400 for 12-hour shifts in factories. One ends up spending Rs 100 on conveyance after travelling for 5 hours daily. Earning Rs 250 in 17 hours is hardly worth it. Farm and brick kiln labourers get even less wage,” says Jhivar.
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