A grim struggle in the harsh outback

BALANGIR: A trek into the harsh outback of Balangir brings you face to face with the grim realities of everyday existence the people here have learnt to endure stoically. Caught hopelessly in the cycle of drought, starvation and migration, the countryside wallows in misery. Death due to starvation here brings sorrow but no surprise. It is a routine event. So is lives being mortgaged to contractors for a few crumbs.

Trek deeper, into the remote villages of Nuapada, Banjipada, Ambanji and Gobindpur in Muribahal block, and you will be welcomed with the sight of skinny children clutching desperately at the dry breasts of their emaciated mothers and haggard old men scouring for the precious drop of water. Everything is scare here, from the mother’s milk to water to electricity.

Reality hits you hard here and it rankles.

Locals approach with folded hands to tell you how desperately they need electricity. Before this they have already made the same request to the government officials and political leaders for the umpteenth time with no result.

Villagers depend on fuel wood or tiny kerosene lamps to lit up their huts. But fuel wood and kerosene are also scarce.

So, people here do not try to fight darkness any more. As the dusk congeals into night, they prepare themselves for the bed.

But lack of electricity means no lift irrigation points and no water. Villagers, including women and children, have to trek miles for a bucketful of it.

The circumstances have also hit the education of children hard. Burdened with the struggle for their daily ration of food and water, they find little time left for studies. Schools, where ever they are, at times one in an entire gram panchayat, may not be having teachers.

The villagers blame it on the politicians.

‘‘The MLAs and MPs we elect never bother about our condition. Their visits here are rare and the realisation of promises they make are even rarer,’’ say villagers.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: June 4, 2001
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