‘People have to climb on trees to access internet connectivity’
Udaipur : It may appear funny to see people climbing on trees, perched on branches, waiting hours for their chance to put their finger prints and above all their bio-metric marks to be verified by the POS (point of sale) machines. Only then they can get down and walk back miles to the ration shops where they have to get into another queue to collect ration commodity for their household needs. This is a common scene at not one but many centers in Kotra, one of the most backward and remote settlements, situated 125 kms from Udaipur district headquarters.
Instead of making life easier, the government move to digitalize the Public Distribution System has added miseries to the people specially in Kotra region. There are 76 ration centers in the area of which 13 suffer from very poor connectivity. At these places Ration dealers have to climb on trees to find internet connectivity to use their POS machines. People living in small settlements like Merpur, Chibarwadi, MalwiyaKhakariya, Peepla, Bhuridebar, Beran, Palcha, Umariya, Samoli have to wait daily for hours to get their bio-metric verification for the access to purchase ration items like sugar, wheat, kerosene etc. “ The only ration shop is many miles from our home but the ration dealer camps on a hilltop which is even far away. Sometime it takes 4-5 hours to find even a thin trace of internet network and then only the machine works. The earlier system was better” says Bhola Gameti, a resident. “ Many houses do not have electricity connection. There are no roads or proper health facilities. How unwise is this of the government to implement the POS system before ensuring proper infrastructure” claims a government school teacher posted in one the schools there.
“Difficult terrain and scattered patterns of settlement, coupled with poor development status makes it difficult to deliver services and hence dozens of villages in Kotra lacks proper communication and internet facilities” claims a government officer not wished to be named. It is worth mentioning here that no public servant desires to serve in Kotra and if one happens to land there by a transfer posting, it is referred as a ‘Kala-Pani ki Saja’.
Isolated existence of the tribals for several centuries and remoteness from rest of the district has affected the delivery of services. Another notable feature in the area is that many younger men migrate to surrounding areas to earn livelihood and the ones left behind are mostly elderly people, women and children. The block is largely inhabited by two tribes- Garasiyas and Gameti, constituting about 85% of all population. Most families live in scattered hutments, often on hilly areas. They often engage in seasonal agriculture, collection of forest produce, and wage labour.