JAJPUR: Once notorious for malnutrition deaths, Nagada no longer lives in the infamy of being Odisha’s heart of darkness.
The nondescript village in Jajpur’s Sukinda block has undergone a radical change since it hogged headlines for deaths of children due to malnutrition in 2016. Now, it boasts of proper houses, road connectivity, safe drinking water and uninterrupted power supply, amenities which were a far cry for the tribal villagers not many years back.
Located on a hilltop, Nagada is home to to the Juang community, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), which depends on forest produce and agriculture for subsistence. The village comprises three hamlets - Upar, Majhi and Tala Nagada.
“Six years back, there was no electricity in our village. Our suffering after the sundown knew no bounds. But now, we have two sources of power, one regular and the other solar. First, the government set up solar lamps to light up the village and later electrified it. We are getting uninterrupted power round-the-clock,” said Katakia Pradhan, a resident of Upar Nagada.
Besides, gone are the days when villagers had to share their humble dwellings with domestic animals. The government has constructed 59 houses under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana in the village. While 31 houses have been built in Tala Nagada, 14 each have come up at Majhi and Upar Nagada. Now every family in the village has a concrete house.
Govinda Pradhan of Tala Nagada said the development is akin to a dream come true for villagers. “Earlier, villagers used to live in dilapidated thatched huts. We used to share our single room huts with domestic animals. Now, we have pucca houses with separate sheds for animals,” he informed.
Similarly, there has been a marked improvement in road connectivity. Earlier, the journey to Nagada was arduous as one had to climb uphill through dense forest for several miles to reach the village. Now, motorable roads have been constructed connecting the three hamlets. Another road is being constructed to link the village with the mainland.
The State government has also brought Nagada under its social security schemes. Public distribution system (PDS) items and pensions - old age and widow - have been made accessible to villagers.
“Unlike the past when we had to trek a long distance to reach the retailer point, we are now getting PDS rice from the local anganwadi centre every month,” said Nandia Pradhan of Majhi Nagada. Monthly pension is also provided at the doorsteps. “The local sarpanch visits our houses every month and gives us our monthly pension money,” said Guluri Pradhan, a widow of Tala Nagada.
Jajpur Collector Chakravarti Singh Rathore said the district administration focused on three fronts to ensure development of the village.
“First was infrastructure development, then came access to livelihood options and the last was behavioural reforms of villagers. We are also looking after the economic development of villagers. The administration is working earnestly to implement development projects in Nagada at the earliest,” Rathore added.