NABARANGPUR: The Forest Rights Act might have ensured them an ownership over the forest and its resources, but basic facilities are still a distant dream. People residing in forest areas under Umerkote block of Nabarangpur district do not have access to healthcare and Government benefits and education of their children is badly hit.
Umerkote block houses three remote villages of Jamapani, Phundeidhodi and Jamdhodi that are located within the reserve forest area. The three tribal-dominated villages fall under Kurshi gram panchayat.
None of the villages have an all weather road. People have to walk through Kutcha roads meandering through hills and cross a river to reach Ravanaguda to get access to healthcare and purchase essential commodities.
During monsoon, the Tohora river swells and the villages are cut off for the entire season. Although residents of the villages have been demanding a bridge over the river and an all weather road, the administration has not been paying any heed.
None of the villages have an anganwadi centre. There is no school in Jamapani, Phundeidhodi and Jamdhodi and children also have to walk till Ravanaguda village which has a primary school. In between, they have to cross Tohora river, a tributary of river Tel. Despite the trouble, at least 30 children from the three villages undergo the ordeal everyday to study. Locals said this is why they do not send their girls to school.
Sources said to achieve 100 percent enrolment, Government had relaxed the norm for opening of new primary schools in Tribal Sub Plan areas. Under this, new primary schools can be opened in habitations having at least 25 children, provided there is no primary school within one km radius of such habitations. The distance norm is further relaxed in case of natural barriers like rivers, hilly terrains and dense forest. The local administration, though, is yet to take benefit of the norm to open schools in the area. Official sources said the special permission is required from the Forest Department to initiate any construction works within a reserve forest.