Jatinga all set to celebrate centenary

Jatinga, which requires no introduction for its bird phenomena, sweet and tasty oranges and above all the hospitality of the villagers, has been the cynosure to the nature lovers of the state and abroad but has failed to be blessed with the seeds of development.

Jatinga, Haflong

The story of Jatinga village goes back to the year 1902, when the founder father U Lakhan Bang Suchiang of Gunapara village near Borkhola came in contact with some Khasi labourers working on the construction of a new railway line between Badarpur and Lumding. They used to visit Borkhola market, then a prosperous foothill market where the tribals like Nagas, Kacharis, Kukis etc. frequently came down to purchase agricultural equipment. During such a meeting Lakhan Bang was told about the vast virgin forest near Haflong. Lakhon was searching for a place to cultivate paan vines as the vines at Gunapara were fast dying due to an known disease. In the year 1901, Lakhaon Bang decided to pay visit to Boro Haflong.

At first Lakhon Bang was denied permission by the SDO, Haflong but was advised to teach the Nagas, the method of paan cultivation. As there were none in the village except two families, who knew the method, they decided to take it up. Then he planted 1000 saplings for them and for himself on a trial basis. But after one year seeing the encouraging growth and after being requested by the Nagas, he repeatedly approached the SDO, Haflong and ultimately in the 1905, Lakhon Bang succeeded in getting the permission to settle and to plant paan vines at Jatinga.

Once an official of World Health Organisation (WHO) of Sudan Mr D V Subramaniyam commented ‘Jatinga, idyllic, clean and well planned ‘a model’. It is a place where the villagers repair steps and roads in every winter spending their village funds.

The name Jatinga, is derived from the Naga language which means path way of rain and wind. The village was first established at a place located near a small stream flowing between present Jatinga Tiniali and Dolong river. As the place was not healthy, the village was then shifted to present place in 1910. In the year 1914, Lakhon Bang obtained another permission to plant oranges when paan cultivation was not possible. Jatinga flourished along with the increase in orange production. Depending on the huge production of oranges and pineapples at Jatinga and its surroundings a fruit preservation centre with the product name ‘Kanch: was also established at Boro Haflong but now it is a sick unit following the indifferent attitude of the authority and of course due to drastic decline in production. Thus the economic condition of the villagers came down alarmingly as they were solely dependent on horticulture. Again in the year 1998, devastating flood washed away at least seven horticulture garden of Jatinga for which the villagers did not get any financial assistance informed O Pachuan, former member of Autonomous Council. He said the ‘plight of Jatinga people have not been addressed even after repeated approaches.

Late H Rupsi, retired principal, Govt. Boy’s HS School, Haflong who was the Gaon Bura of Jatinga for the last 20 years sharing his past glorious memories of Jatinga with this correspondent, used to say ‘Jatinga did not get that much attention which was needed to. Jatinga people are hard working, honest and above all self-reliant. But with the decline of orange production, plight of Jatinga people mounted up alarmingly’.

Recently, there were news of tourism promotion at Jatinga by the district administration, NC Hills to increase job opportunities for the Jatinga people but the people of Jatinga are not aware of such schemes, informed the Gaon Bura K Suchiang. Talking to this correspondent Suchiang said that regarding the new schemes no discussion had been held with him or his villagers. Answering the questions of the correspondent he admitted that if any schemes were to be taken in the Jatinga area he or his villagers should also be informed, what was not done in this case. He said instead of imposing any new schemes on Jatinga, the economic uplift of the people of Jatinga should be taken into consideration first. And above all the schemes should also be people oriented but not officers oriented. The people of Jatinga are not ready to be fooled again and again with some impractical promises. He suggested that small tea garden might be the ultimate solution to the people of Jatinga, as the people of Jatinga are born horticulturists, and if the Government encourages the tea plantation in Jatinga it could be a boon to the people of Jatinga.

- by From Anup Biswas, HAFLONG, on The Assam Tribune