Ratia is located 23 kms from the district headquarter of Fatehabad. The town is located close to the Punjab border and therefore has a sizeable population of Sikhs, many of whom have been settled here for generations. The last recorded voter base was a little short of 2 lakhs. The local culture is predominantly Punjabi and the town has built a reputation for being a major centre for rice and cotton cultivation.
The town is named after Rattan Nath, a sadhu believed to possess special powers and meditated in this place for a long time. The town suffered a severe famine in 1783, wherein the locals all migrated to other places, leaving Ratia as a ghost town. In 1816, one Rattan Singh, backed by the royals of Patiala, established a small fort here. Ever since, the area has emerged as an agrarian township.
Over Commitment; Unfulfilled promises
Ratia is a story of hopes and unfulfilled promises. The town voted for a Congress MLA in 2011 and in the post-election victory celebrations, the current Chief Minister made a grandiose announcement of Rs 300 crore to develop Ratia and nearby villages. Amongst the promises made were setting up of a 220 KV substation at Hukamwali, 132 KV substation at Bhatoo Khurd and a 33KV substation at Ratia.
He went on to promise electricity connection to smaller areas of Ratia region, wherein people could get a connection by paying only 5% of the cost with the state government and its arms bearing the rest. He also announced that the local hospital will be upgraded from a 30 bed to a 60 bed one, along with providing special facilities to fight Hepatitis C, which was afflicting the people of the area. There was a Girl’s college promised along with the promise to set up a community centre for the local Sikhs and Saini communities, respectively.
The people had a problem with the veterinary hospital located in Ratia and wanted it to be moved out. This was agreed to and assurance given that it would be moved to an alternate site outside Ratia. A sewage line was promised for Ratia. The barrier on the river Ghaggar needed repairs and this was also assured to the people.
Further promises including building of a Palika Kendra in Ratia, along with building a stadium and a local library. A grain mandi and an auto market was also promised with much fanfare.
The problem with this state government has been that it has either neglected a region or it has over committed development for that region. Ratia is a case of over commitment followed by poor implementation. This has left the people disillusioned and very disappointed with the Hooda administration, especially since the local MLA is from the same party.
A review of all the promises made by the Chief Minister in 2011, along with the commitment to allocate Rs 300 crore for local development, reveals that most of the promises have remained unfulfilled or partially fulfilled.
The grain mandi or the auto market is still incomplete. The two community centres promised to the two communities remain unfulfilled. There is still no stadium or library. The hospital is yet to be fully upgraded and the Hepatitis C program was allocated to Rohtak PGI and Ratia was left out despite the area being a major afflicted zone. The substation for Ratia is still incomplete as is the promise of subsidised electricity connections to all. The sewage line in Ratia remains unfinished and the same is with the overdue repairs of the barrier on Ghaggar River.
The Girl’s college was made to operate from a Boy’s school, while the building for the Girl’s college in Jakhan Dadi is yet to be completed! Several institutions were built but are not fully operational because of shortage of staff. These include the Diet centre at Dani Jhakan Dadi, Kasturba Gandhi school at Khai, the Model school in Jallopur and the ITI in Bhirdana, all of which have a staff shortage. The veterinary hospital is yet to be moved out of Ratia. The list of unfulfilled promises goes on.
The above gives a glimpse of poor planning, poor project management and monitoring, and poor follow-up on part of state government. And this is despite the Chief Minister himself making the commitments.
Why no Railway?
So now what are the choices people have? People need more than just promises; they are fed up of having to struggle for basic facilities. People are facing problems in travelling as there is no railway line to the area. They have a genuine need to make use of railways. Why is it that Ratia does not have a railway line in India’s 68th year of independence?
If a railway line were to be made available connecting it to both Punjab and other cities of Haryana, the area could develop faster as more industrial activity could be set up. Why has the local MLA not been successful in convincing his party high command to bring Ratia on the railway map? These are some of the answers the people of Ratia want from their government.
The BJP headed by Shri Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, has constantly emphasised the need for good governance. This means that a lot of planning goes in before making commitments and once made, the commitments are fulfilled.
Naya Haryana will see a new dawn where the local people will debate their problems and the state government will help resolve them. It is time for the people to make their choice for change to a Naya Haryana.