The Nagada village of Chingudipala Panchayat of Sukinda block in Jajpur district, Odisha caught headlines of the state and national media due to continuous child deaths in July-August, 2016. Now five to six months have already passed. A six-member team of the “Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakha Sangathan” visited the place on 4th February 2017 to know about on-going programs of the government in addressing malnutrition problems of Nagada village. The team visited villages such as Upara Nagada, Majhi Nagada, Tala Nagada and Naliadaba villages of Chingudipala panchayat. Two months back our team had gone to Malkangiri district where more than hundred children died in few months due to Japanese Encephalitis (JE). We will bring a detailed report soon on continuous death of children in Odisha due to malnutrition. Here we are bringing before you some of the findings of the team who had gone to Nagada village.
It was the month of July 2016 that a two months old son of Laxmi Pradhan of Tala Nagada suffered with red boils in his entire body including mouth followed with heavy fever, loose motion and vomiting. The child stopped feeding on breast milk and he died within 48 hours. This similar symptoms were noticed at other children of age group varies from 2 months to 4 years mainly of Tala Nagada and Majhi Nagada hamlets. Within few weeks, that disease spread to number of children and most of them died within two to three days of sufferings. The state government conform such deaths as 19. The team agrees to the fact that it was due to malnutrition those children became prone to diseases and died instantly.
(Nagada Village of Odisha)
In discussing with the women of these hamlets, it was revealed that the pulse-polio programme of the government of India had not reached to Nagada upto 2016. When negligence and apathy of the state government came into sever criticism then only two mini-agnanawadi centers were opened. Now LaxmiPradhan and Kamala Pradhan of that Nagada village who lost their child in recent past have been assigned with food distribution work of Anganwadi Center without any formal training. The government has not yet posted even an Anganwadi Worker there on a permanent basis.
(A woman with her child of Upara Nagada village)
Mr. Naveen Pattnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha formed Task Force comprising various bureaucrats to address the situation. As part of such Task Force, Mr. Bishal Kumar Dev, IAS and Secretary of Department of Women and Child Development had said that health camp would run permanently at Nagada. But the Fact Finding team did not see any such health camp in Nagada village. But there are women and children who are suffering from fever but are not getting medical attention, the team found. The nearest government run bedded hospital, Community Health Center, is at Sukinda, 50km away from the village. The only Nutrition Center which was opened at Tata Mines Nursing Home, Kaliapani in August with help of the government was stopped in October, 2016. Mr. Manoj Ahuja, Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Cooperation had said that Nagada villagers would get ration items, rice and kerosene, of double amount. But this continued for two months and was stopped in October, 2016. The villagers said that they are only getting 5kg of rice per head under new Food Security Programe.
The whole intention of the government in addressing the problems of Nagada village is quite doubtful. Nagada is a revenue village and its latest survey and settlement was done in 19080s. As per the Record of Rights, out of total 761.45 acres of geographical are only 19.38 acres of land has been designated as private land where as 618.6 acres as forest land. The Juanga tribals are coming under Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. When the government’s negligence in implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006 came into question after recent incident the revenue department initiated process of distribution of pattas under Forest Rights Act hurriedly. The team members observed that few families have received 8 decimal of land as homestead in Sal forest having same Khata Number 6 and Plot number 174. Those families failed to identify whose land belongs to them when the team members enquired. That means the revenue department has not followed the process properly. Though the government claims that it is encouraging Juanga tribals to adopt agriculture as their main livelihood but it has not given land pattas properly. As per the FR Act those families are entitled to get 8 to 10 acres of forest land for cultivation. Those villagers also expressed that they depend on forest for 8 to 9 months for their livelihood. Forest is attached to them like head and stomach of a human being, what they say. They collect different roots, fruits and leaves which they also showed before the team. But the government has not yet given Community rights over their own forest land.
(Connecting Road from Kalianpani Mines to NALCO Nagar via Nagada Village)
Though they are coming under Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group but special attention has not been given to protect their social and cultural life of Juanga tribes. Rather both central and state governments have started playing with the life of tribals what they say they are trying to mitigate malnutrition problems of Juangas. The government has not yet provided medical care. But its Rural Development department has come with a mega plan of making a bi-lane of 10 to 14 meters width inside this Harichanpur Telekoi Reserved Forest area. Already the contractors engaged for construction of such road has uprooted or cut hundreds of big trees with help of big machines. This road will go by Nagada hamlets. Where the villagers require a village road of all seasons there a bigger road has come up for connecting Kaliapani chromite mines to Angul NALCO aluminium city through Kamakhaprasad. This is a plan of investing crores of money by both Rural Development Ministry of the Government of India and Government of Odisha with 80:20 ratio of expenses what the staffs of the Contractor said.
At different occasions the government officers have insisted the Juangas to have faith on policies of the government and to leave their forest. They had insisted the tribals to come down to plane area near to the mining site and settle there.Mr. PrafullaGhadei said in a TV interview, “Juanga tribals of Nagada are partly responsible because they have been persuaded to go to plane areas. They will be provided with houses and land. But they are refusing.” Here question comes, has the government rehabilitated those 4 lakh tribals who were displaced by different mega projects including Hirakud Dam?Now tribals of Kalinga Nagar industrial area of same Jajpur district are going from pillar to post to get justice. Why the Juangas then would leave their forest? Who would be benefited then?
The team members suspect intention of the government in constructing roads inside the reserved forest. There are 13 chromite mines of 12 companies are operating around 15km to 20 km radius of Nagada for last 40 years. Those mines are Sukinda Chromite Mines of Tata; Jindal Chromite Mines; Balasore Alloyas Limited of Birla; IMFA; Sukinda Mines, Kaliapani Minesand Dhaneswar Mines of Odisha Mining Corporation, a government Odisha Unit; IDCOL; Mishrinal Chromite Mines and BC Mohanty and Sons Chromite Mines etc. These companies have not done anythingfor development of the region, not even plantation or even opening a health care unit. But for ‘addressing malnutrition problem’ now the government is constructing a wider road for industrial development of the area. So, if it continues then those Juanga villages will not be there where they are now. They will be uprooted from their villages soon.
It is pathetic that even today the government of Odisha has failed to open an Anganwadi Center, a primary school and a Primary Health Center at Nagada. But it is constructing a mega road expending crores of money. This road is cutting hundreds of trees which would have been the livelihood of these Juangas. At this juncture the team demands;
- Every human being has a right to get proper drinking water, proper health care and education. These should be provided immediately to the Nagada villagers.
- That road construction work should be stopped and a village road should be constructed.
- More fruit based trees should be planted inside the reserved forest which could be useful for the Juangas.
- The government should distribute forest pattas after conducting pallisabha and they should be provided with Community rights as well.
- The government should stop giving new mining leases and should review work of existing mines keeping priority on industrial pollution and lifestyle of existing Juanga tribals.
We hope that the government would give respect to the fifth schedule of the constitution and bring changes in its attitude.
Date: February 11, 2017
Ganatantrik Adhikar SurakhaSangathan, Odisha, Bhubaneswar