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For voters in Jaisalmer's border villages, elections are a reminder of 'unfulfilled' promises

twitter-logoPTI | April 26, 2019 | Updated 15:42 IST

By Manish Sain Jaisalmer, Apr 26 (PTI) Political parties may have spent months seeking people's suggestions for drafting their manifestos for the Lok Sabha elections, but residents of border villages in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer say they are convinced nothing will change. Villagers say politicians visit them ahead of every election and make tall promises, only to forget about them after coming to power. Their demands for basics like water, healthcare and education infrastructure have been ignored for years now and they vote only to fulfil their duty as citizens of the country, they said. "Every election season politicians visit us and promise schools, hospitals, and transport, but every time those promises remain unfulfilled. So, the next time we vote for another party. However, the story remains the same," Ker Khan, a resident of Khalibhar village -- located 11 kilometers from the famous Longewala post, told PTI. "The issues we face have existed for years. No government has done anything significant. We are the residents of this country and we have to vote, there is no other reason," said Surata Ram (83) of Tanot village. In Khariya, home to 10-15 families engaged in sheep rearing and farming, people worry about their children's education. Having had a hand-to-mouth existence for generations, these families cannot afford the lodging expenses that come with sending their children to far-off schools. "The nearest school is eight kilometers away from our village in Tanot and that too is a primary school with just one teacher," said Khariya resident Sangram Singh. Walking so far is not easy for children and the older students have to be sent to boarding schools at great personal expense, he said. "There is a school till 12th in Ramgarh, but for that we have to admit the children to hostels and it costs around Rs 50,000 for one child. How can we afford such expensive education?" he asked. Availability of water is another problem for villagers in the parched district. The nearest source of water for Khariya is a distributary of the Indira Gandhi canal some 40 kilometers away in Ramgarh village. Ramgarh is also the closest place where Khariya residents can find proper medical help. "There is a medical sub-centre in Tanot, but that is only for minor ailments. For anything more than a cold and cough, we have to run to Ramgarh," said another Khariya resident, Amar Singh. Govardhan Singh of Nathuwala, a village located seven kilometers from Tanot, pointed out the requirement of a veterinary hospital to help the people take care of their animals. "For a community entirely dependent on animal husbandry, we can't do anything but see our sheep and goats die in front of us," he rued. Lack of an adequate public transport system compounds the problems of villagers in Rajasthan's westernmost district which is known for its treacherous terrain and sweltering temperatures. Villagers said they have to walk long distances or wait for passing BSF vehicles and tourist cabs willing to give them a lift to Ramgarh. Tanot, approximately 40 kilometers north from the Longewala post, is the nearest point for people in the area to find a state roadways bus. The bus service is restricted from Tanot to Ramgarh. "We have three buses in the morning and evening, which are mostly used by the people coming for a pilgrimage," said Ridmal Ram (78) of Tanot, where tourists come to visit a famous devi temple. Jaisalmer falls under the Barmer-Jaisalmer Lok Sabha constituency, where polls are scheduled to take place on April 29. PTI MAS DIV DIV

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