Indian villagers making money in foreign currency


There are many people living in Meghalaya, a north eastern state in India who cross borders and trek to Bangladesh as village Huroi in Meghalaya does not have a motorable road to access infrastructure.

Trekking into Meghalaya is quite tough due to long distance of basic amenities from Meghalaya-Bangladesh border village of Hunoi.

Majority of income (approx 70-90%) of the village is in Takas.

People falling sick, women suffering from labour pain and for other daily needs trek into Bangladesh and trade in Bangladeshi currency Takas.

These people regret crossing fence and going to Bangladesh but they are left with no choice. If they have to use facilities within the state they have to trek for 4-5 hours but trekking in Bangladesh takes 1-2 hours.

Medical emergency in Umkiang primary health centre on Indian side is a five hour trek through the jungle whereas Bangladesh hospital in Kanaighat is an hour journey.

Apart from Huroi, there are 3 other villages that depend on Bangladesh. These are Lejri, Lahalein and Hingara. These 4 villages have about 3800 residents who earn majority of revenues in Takas.

Along the fencing Border Security Force (BSF) has built a new road not meant for civilians but frequented by Lejri and Lahalein residents.

Unfortunately the road passes over a river which has only a footbridge which does not allow transporting heavy goods.

These people are desperate to cross fence through treacherous rivers and sell goods to Bangladeshi businessmen and few have drowned mid-stream.

Villagers have protested that “if Indian government doesn’t want to fix the road, it is better to remove fence and give us to Bangladesh so that we do not risk our lives every day”.

Politicians visit Huroi with tall claims of better roads and then disappear for five years. Villagers decided to boycott 2018 state elections but district’s deputy commissioner Lhuid, promised them of better health system and setting up a mobile tower before the elections.

The matter reached the PMO last year when two college students penned a letter detailing the lack of facilities and villager’s ordeal. They wrote that they had to survive on the mercy of Bangladeshi people.

But for people who are in age bracket of 50-70 years, nothing is more important than road.

Due to lack of roads, they lose their children and drove them insane with grief. Some of them lost their new born babies.

I hope government will do something as soon as this story reaches them.

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