BERHAMPUR: Unlike toddlers his age, Rinku cannot go out to the village street to play. The two-year-old boy who was born with a neurological disorder is unable to stand or walk and even speak. After running around hospitals for his treatment, his parents have admitted him to the SCBMCH at Cuttack where he is currently undergoing treatment. Another youth Rajanikanta Mohapatra’s skeletal arms dangle lifelessly and cannot hold anything. Although he is able to walk, he cannot do anything on his own and depends on his mother for everything.
There are 100 more people including children like Rajanikanta and Rinku in Palaksandha, a thickly populated village under Belaguntha block of Ganjam district, who are suffering from one kind of deformity or the other. And no one including the doctors know the reason why. The village has every amenity that its residents need but villagers feel, life is cursed for them. Because, a majority of families have at least one person or a child suffering from deformity.
Worse, none of the disabled persons are included in the Government list for disability pension or other benefits.While many of them were born with deformity, some became disabled after years of birth and this has been happening since the 80s. There are at least 800 families in the village. A few years back, the Health Department officials had visited the village after some villagers apprised them about the situation. But the team never submitted any report on their findings.
The villagers claim that they have also apprised the Chief Minister and Health Minister about their condition in the past but none has come to their rescue. Such is the condition now that people of other villagers do not want to marry their sons and daughters into the village, said Rajanikanta.
Suspecting that the deformities might be due to fluoride content in the water, Chief District Medical Officer Bijay Panigrahi said he has asked the health staff of Belaguntha Community Health Centre to furnish a detailed report in this regard.Villagers, meanwhile, said they are fed up with the apathy of the State Government. They said while the Government is spending crores of rupees for providing healthcare to needy people throughout the State, they have been facing neglect for several years.