JAJPUR: Nagada’s tryst with infamy seems never ending. After earning notoriety for malnutrition deaths, the remote village under Sukinda block in Jajpur district has once again hit the headlines for wrong reasons. While the entire country is revelling in the festival of democracy, participating in the elections for the tribal inhabitants of Nagada is an arduous task.
Around 200 voters of the village will have to trek at least 10 km through hilly forest terrain to reach the nearest polling station at Deogaon primary school to exercise their franchise on April 29, the final phase of elections in the State.
Situated on the hilltop, the village is divided into three parts - Tala Nagada, Upara Nagada and Majhi Nagada, which house around 500 Juang tribals. In 2014 elections, the villagers had cast their votes at Deogaon primary school which can only be accessed through the hilly forests in 2014.
Nagada shot into limelight after 22 malnutrition deaths were reported in the village in 2016. Life of the tribals changed overnight as Government officials and mediapersons made a beeline for the village. After the appalling living conditions of the villagers came to fore, the Government swung into action and hurriedly announced various development projects in the village.
After two primary schools, one at Nagada, and the other at nearby Guhiasala village, were opened last year, the villagers hoped that their polling station would be changed this time and they would not have to travel such a long distance to participate in the elections. However, their hopes came crashing down after Deogaon primary school was once again declared the polling booth for the villagers.
Ward member of Nagada Basanti Pradhan said there are two Government primary schools nearby now. It is a matter of great surprise that instead of setting up the polling station in either of these two schools, the administration chose the distant Deogaon like previous year, she said. “This decision of the district administration has sparked resentment among the villagers. This will certainly affect the polling percentage in the village,” she said.
Another woman of the village Gita Pradhan said she is contemplating to skip voting this time. “It will be difficult and painful for us to walk such a long distance by braving the scorching sun to reach the polling station. Moreover, the entire voting process for us will take a lot of time, which we cannot spare since we have to attend to all the daily household chores,” Gita said and added that she has no option but to skip the vote. Sources said this resentment among the villagers will reflect on the voter turnout in Nagada.