Lohaghat (Uttarakhand): It has been more than six decades since India’s independence, but still villages in the mountainous terrains of Uttarakhand are devoid of basic amenities like road, education, water and health facilities. The sorry picture of the state can be gauged from the deplorable condition of Punauli Kazina, a small village in the Vikas block of Lohaghat, where every day students and patients are forced to walk 28 kilometers, in the absence of proper roads and transportation.

Punauli Kazina is a home to 500 people. Due to poor road connectivity, the villagers are bereft of basic facilities like schools and Primary Health Centres (PHCs). Students had to walk 28 kilometers everyday to attend their high school and intermediate classes. Similar is the case with critically ill patients who have to go to Paati village for treatment. Nearly 60 percent of the villagers have already migrated to other areas.

Although Punauli has Anganwadi schools from Primary to Junior High School level, but there are no educational institutions up to Intermediate grade. The worst affected are the girls, who remain uneducated as they are not allowed to go to other far off village to complete their education.

Similarly, there are no health facilities within 20 km radius. The village has facility for minor health related problems but none for serious problems. Since the nearest Community Health Centre (CHC) is in Paati village, the locals are left with no option but to cover more than 20 kilometers to avail treatment. Generally, patients and even pregnant women are carried on Palanquin to reach nearest health centre. Ironically, many patients die before they could get any treatment.

Moreover, to get items of daily requirement, Punauli villagers are forced to cover rough stretch of 15 kilometer to reach Mulakot village. And, many times they even have to walk 28 km for Paati village to get things of their requirement.

Besides, locals are finding it difficult to earn their daily wages by selling the vegetables, fruits and crops. Since the village lies in the mountainous terrains, it has good harvest of potato, wheat and fruits. But due to poor road connectivity villagers face difficulties to commute and sell their products. According to Prakash Chandra Joshi, Gram Pradhan of the village, “Many politicians visit the village at the time of election to give fake assurances. After winning the elections, the men-in-khaki are least bothered about our grievances.”