The residents of Simlet, a small island village located off the coast in Panchmahals district, got their ration through the public distribution system (PDS) on Wednesday at their doorsteps – for the first time.
The district administration organised a camp at the village, which is located in the catchment area of the Panam dam.
“There had been a few requests from the villagers. Since they were facing difficulties during the Covid-19 lockdown, we decided to organise the camp,” said Amit Arora, District Collector, Panchmahals.
A total of 204 persons from over 30 families registered under the National Food Security Act were provided with wheat, rice, chana dal and sugar. A total ration of 2,120 kilograms were distributed among the beneficiaries.
For all these years, the villagers have lived without electricity, school, healthcare centre and shops. Most of the families depend on agriculture, fishing and contractual labour work to earn a living. The villagers have to commute via boat to Mahelan village, almost a kilometre away, to avail all facilities.
“This is a very welcome move by the administration. And this is for the very first time that a camp has been organised here. Earlier we would take our own boats through the river to Mahelan. It takes us around 20-30 minutes. Summers are more difficult. Earlier we would pool together on a single boat but due to the pandemic, we had stopped sharing the boats. I hope this arrangement is continued further as well,” one of the villagers Sana Pateliya said.
The district collector said that they were yet to decide if this can be made a permanent arrangement.
The village had submerged in the Panam reservoir in 1974, when the dam was built. The residents were provided lands in Mordungra and Kalali villages in Panchmahals but some of them decided to stay back and some others, who had left, returned claiming that they had a bigger piece of land in Simlet which was more fertile than what was offered to them.
Since then the residents have stayed in this village, marooned from the main land and disconnected. Around 600 people live on the island. The students enrolled in primary school take a boat ride every day. The students from secondary sections are enrolled in residential ashram shalas in Panchmahals district and other districts. Even during the election, the villagers row their boats to Mahelan where the election booth is set up.