Boats are the only means of communication for half of the year in Balia
Most villages in Bangladesh have decent communication and infrastructural development in recent years, with schools and hospitals in close proximity and paved roads to commute on. The same cannot be said for Balia village.
With a population of 1,339 – according to the 2011 Population and Housing Census – Balia falls under Ward 1 of Kauljani union in Basail upazila, Tangail. The tiny village is surrounded by farmland and marshland, where boats are the only means of communication for at least six months every year – especially during monsoon.
On a recent visit, this correspondent also found that it is difficult for Balia residents to commute even during dry season, with no paved roads and bridges. Due to the lack of proper road network and transport system, villagers have difficulties getting access to medical and education facilities, locals said.
The distance between the village and Basail Sadar is about 15km on a boat or through the farmlands. If a bridge was constructed in the area, the travel distance will reduce to only 5km, the locals added. However, the village has electricity.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Hazrat Ali, a Balia resident in his 60s, said: “We do not have any paved roads in the village. We are surrounded by marshes, and we do not have any schools and hospitals nearby.”
“During monsoon, it is hard to find boats,” said Abdul Jalil, another resident. “The nearby school is 2km away, and the journey is troublesome. The expecting mothers in our village have to suffer when they require medical attention.
“It has been 48 years since Bangladesh gained independence, yet no government has bothered to improve the quality of life in our village," Jalil complained.
When contacted, Basail Upazila Parishad Chairman Kaji Aulid Islam said: "We are working for the development of Balia village. A major bridge along with roads and schools will be constructed here. Hopefully, the construction will begin in June this year."
Md Joaherul Islam, lawmaker of Tangail 8 constituency, which Balia is a part of, said: "We hope that the road construction project will be approved within a month or two."