Reported by Gadadhar Panda
Tangi, Jan 15:
More than five years after Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda and Salepur MLA Chandrasarathi Behera promised them the moon, there has been no change in the lot of the poverty-stricken people of Charigaria and Ketakijhar Munda enclaves in Uchhapada panchayat.
During a public contact campaign after winning the last general elections, the two had visited these two tribal settlements and had made all the right moves and noises. They were shocked to find that such an underdeveloped place existed in their area. Choked with emotion, the two leaders toured the village and enquired about the condition of the tribals. They even shared meals with them in their huts and put up for the night in a thatched hut belonging to one Gopal Singh of Charigaria village.
Innocent tribals had then believed that the leaders had a big heart and their living conditions would change for good and hoped that their villages would soon have electricity, drinking water and schools.
But nothing has changed in the five years and more since then. The two leaders have never bothered to visit the place to find out whether things have changed for the innocent tribals either.
This reporter visited Ketakijhar and Charigaria Munda enclaves in Mania revenue village under Uchhapada panchayat, hardly five km from the block headquarters at Tangi to find out the real state of affairs in these enclaves. And what he saw told a story of gross apathy, both by the two ‘people’s representatives’ and the local administration, and utter underdevelopment.
More than 60 families belonging to the Munda community reside in huts with drooping thatched roofs in these two enclaves. The tribals living in these enclaves are yet to taste the fruits of development despite living here for generations. More than 30 children in these enclaves were found to be suffering from malnutrition.
Education is a farfetched dream for them. Since there is no school nearby, the children do not attend school.
Ketakijhar has no electricity and children cheer up on seeing the glow of electric lights in neighbouring villages. There is no drinking water facility in these enclaves either. The villagers have no choice but to fetch drinking water from chuas (shallow ditches) dug in agricultural fields after February. A few days back, a tube well was sunk in the village. But most of the time, it does not yield any water.
While the government has floated several welfare schemes for the benefit of scheduled tribes, none of them reach these poor tribals. Villagers say leaders visit them during elections to seek their votes, but never return after the votes are cast. They alleged that the leaders forget the promises they had made to provide electricity, water etc. The villagers said they had thought that their wishes would be fulfilled as senior leaders had visited their villages, but in vain.