BARIPADA: Even as the State Government claimed to have successfully implemented several development projects in tribal areas, the ground reality is different.
Deprived of basic facilities like health, drinking water, education and housing, Mankdias, a primitive tribal group of 160 families residing near the foothills of Similipal and other forest areas of Mayurbhanj district, are struggling to sustain their livelihood even after 65 years of Independence.
The Mankdias still have to travel several kilometres to fetch a pot of drinking water, avail of medical facilities and reach market to sell forest produce. Moreover, the enforcement of stringent forest laws has badly affected their livelihood.
Not only the Mankdias, other tribal communities in the district are also a neglected lot. Benefits of anti-poverty schemes like MGNREGS are yet to reach them. A case in the point is the tribal settlement in inaccessible areas like Uthani Sahi village in Kaptipada block. Sources said the families were residing inside Similipal forest till the government erected thatched houses for them in Uthani Sahi in 1975 and asked them to shift, promising all measures for their development.
“The government has forgotten its commitments. We are now repenting for having agreed to shift. Though most of the houses have been damaged in rain, no effort has been made to repair them,” said Purna Naik, a local.
The residents said while politicos think about them only during the elections, government officials seldom visit the area. In the absence of employment opportunities, many youths have migrated in search of work.
Most of the villages are without electricity.
As several streams originating from Similipal forest have dried up due to the soaring temperature, women have to prod at least 3 to 4 km a day for drinking water. One tube-well, which remains defunct most of the time, fails to cater to the villagers’ needs.
The other two basic facilities lacking in the village are health and education. This apart, the villagers are deprived of benefits of different welfare and social security schemes like PDS, old age pension and widow pension.
Kaptipada Sub-Collector Saroj Sethi said the villagers of Uthani Sahi had been allotted houses under IAY, given BPL cards and old-age pension. “We have decided to allot houses under ‘Mo Kudia’ Yojana to the Mankdias and proposals have been mooted for road connectivity,” he added.