Kohima:Tribal villagers in Nagaland on Sunday said they were amazed when Ram Kripal Yadav, union minister of state for drinking water and sanitation, inspected the condition of toilets in some houses.
Yadav, who is on a three-day official visit to this mountainous state in the northeast, visited Rusoma and Tseisma villages and also inquired about their water scarcity problems.
Not only the villagers, but even Nagaland government officials who accompanied Yadav were surprised when the minister stopped his vehicle and got down to interact with the villagers.
"I cannot believe that a union minister would interact with the villagers and even inspect our toilet. No minister or government official has ever made such inspections," villager Bao Angami said.
"We hope there will be more ministers like him who come and inspect our village so that there is rapid development," he said.
Pelhubiu Mezhu, in her late 60s, expressed hope that the visit will bring development to Rusoma village.
"I hope we will have better roads in our villages and also solve our water scarcity problem," she said.
On his journey to Tseisma village from Rusoma, the minister suddenly stopped his vehicle halfway near Keyaka village on seeing Border Security Force troopers distributing water to the villagers.
The villagers, who did not recognise Yadav at first, later complained about water scarcity, and said they totally depend on the BSF to provide them drinking water.
After listening to them patiently, Yadav directed the Nagaland government officials to provide safe drinking water to Keyaka village as soon as possible.
"I am saddened to hear and see that some of the villages in Nagaland are yet to receive safe drinking water," Yadav told IANS after visiting the villages.
His visit came following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's direction that ministers should gain first-hand information about problems confronting people in the northeast.
He said he would place the people's grievances before Modi, and this would not be his last visit to the village.
"The prime minister has shown keen interest to develop the northeast and, therefore, has directed all central ministers to visit the region and ensure that the region gets equal share of development," Yadav said.
"I will visit your village again, and we will have food together," he said.
Yadav said the central government has enhanced from Rs.3,000 to Rs.12,000 the financial package, under the Total Sanitation Scheme, for the construction of a toilet and to provide safe drinking water.