Bhubaneswar: The far-flung Nagada village in Sukinda block of Odisha’s Jajpur district which hit the headlines in 2016 with 22 malnutrition deaths continues to be a cursed land of poverty, hunger and backwardness despite the launch of plethora of governmental projects.
If the fact-finding reports furnished by Odisha Soochna Adhikar Abhijan (OSAA- an outfit espousing RTI activism), are anything to go by, the remote village ensconced along the treacherous mountainous is still languishing in backwardness notwithstanding the government’s tall claim.
There has been no major change in terms of health condition of the children and food security of the tribals. The children are still malnourished due to food insecurity and the tribals are still impoverished. There is no change in their food habit of the tribal settlers as was the case in 2016. Only rice and dal or rice and salt constitutes their staple food till today despite claims of intervention and investment by government.
“It has been found that mere development of infrastructure like road construction, supply of electricity , construction of building will no way help strengthening their food security and ensured their livelihood”, OSSA report said.
Half-hazard development work without community mobilization and understanding their problem can never yield positive result. Within 3 year span, Rs. 88 .00 lakhs were sanctioned under NREGA in order to provide employment to the people. But just Rs. 4 .00 lakh has been spent. Had this amount been spent by providing work to the poor tribals, it might have strengthened their food security and ensured livelihood, it said.
Road connectivity was ensured to Nagada village with the plying of Biju Bus from Sukinda to Nagada. But after few days, it was stopped. Now private taxi is plying demanding Rs. 80.00 to and fro from Nagada to Tata Mines. For purchasing 25 kg PDS rice @ Rs.25.00 from Panchayat office, a tribal used to pay Rs. 80.00 for taxi fare. No doubt, this is a big financial burden on the tribals. If the government would have delivered rice at their doorstep, it would have been better for them.
Ensuring portable safe drinking water to Nagada is a big failure. This drinking water project is lying defunct. Water tanks are lying deserted. There is sheer wastage of government money as safe drinking water still eludes the poor settlers.
Nagada, a revenue village and habitation of Juang Primitive Tribal Groups is surrounded by mountainous forest from all sides. It is 18 kms away from Chungudipal Gram Panchayat office, around 20 kms from Tata Mining Hospital and 30 kms from Sukinda block of Jajpur district. There is no road connected to the village. Rocky mountainous track is the only path and medium of communication for the tribal people from their village to Gram Panchayat and rest of the world. There is another village named Guhisala located in the mountain. These two villages are comprised of six hamlets namely Guhiasala ( Taladiha), Naliadaba, Upper Nagada, Majhi Nagada, Tala Nagada and Tumuni. Total population of the village is 579 and child population 273 ( 0-5 years -127 and 6-14 years-146 ). Tata Mining operation is just 15 kms from this area. Agriculture and allied activity are the main source of livelihood of the villagers. They used to grow paddy with local variety and they are well acquainted with “Podu Chasa” ( shifting cultivation) and they depend mainly on local breed goat, buffalo and poultry for livelihood.