Mrunal Manmay Dash

At a time when the Country is moving from 4G to 5G technology in telecommunication, the villagers in Odisha’s Kandhamal are still struggling to find a decent internet connection in order to avail government schemes.

A Common Service Centre (Jana Seva Kendra) in the jungles of Kendugudasahi under Kandhamal’s Balandapada Panchayat says a lot about the horrible state of affair. Forget about 4G services, the area does not have 3G services too. The lone BSNL mobile tower in the Panchayat provides internet at 2G speed and that too in limited areas.

So the locals, who constitute mainly tribals, have to depend on two rather enterprising youths to accomplish their official works. The youths, who run a Common Service Centre in the Panchayat, have to search for internet connection in the jungle every day. Wherever they get a decent connection, they put up a tent, open their laptops and locals start surrounding them for work.

Jamuna Digal, a resident of Balandapada said, “We are forced to run to and from the jungle multiple times for work. The government has made every service available online but forgot to provide internet for us.”

"This is a daily activity, the youth duo has to endure to provide government services to the locals. And the government is not doing anything to alleviate their plight as well," the local alleged.

One of the youths running the common service centre, Rashmiranjan Pradhan, said, “We are fighting everyday to get an internet connection. We fear for our lives. There are many animals here in the jungle. We cannot rule out any attack by them.”

While some people understand the slow internet connection, some never understand and start fighting with the service centre operators if they can’t get their work done in time.

The Sarpanch of Balandapada, Nirakar Nayak conveyed his helplessness in the matter. Speaking to OTV, he said, “Former Sarpanch helped put up the BSNL tower in the Panchayat, but it is providing only 2G service and has not been upgraded to 4G signal.”

Nayak threatened to launch a massive protest on the National Highway if the government continues to be a mute spectator to their plights.

(Reported By Trinath Sahu, OTV)