BERHAMPUR: Development is still a far cry in several villages of tribal-dominated Kandhamal district.
The district had shot to national prominence a decade ago due to communal violence. Since then, special programmes are being implemented to develop the area. Even as the State Government has introduced a number of welfare schemes, these have failed to yield the desired results and benefit the people in the remote pockets of the district, which are deprived of basic amenities.
The tribal-dominated village of Tangam under Bataguda panchayat in Baliguda block is an example of under-development. The village, situated 20 km away from Baliguda town, lacks access to essential amenities like electricity, education, potable water, road connectivity and healthcare facilities.The village, surrounded by hill and forest, is home to at least 40 families with a population of around 200. Most of the families earn their livelihood by selling sal leaves and stitching plates.
Villager Naresh Karji said, “No official has ever visited the village and asked us about our condition. The 10-km road stretch from the village to the panchayat headquarters is in bad shape due to lack of repair. Despite repeated appeals to various quarters, no step has been taken in this regard. The condition of the road got further damaged due to the recent cyclone and flood.”
Last week, an auto-rickshaw, carrying a pregnant woman, took more than two hours to cross the road to reach Bataguda. While the village has two tubewells, one is lying defunct and the other one is releasing muddy and iron-content water. The villagers are thus forced to consume water from a nearby nullah, said Adikanda, another villager.
Similarly, the village school, having classes from I to V, has only two rooms for 31 students. Though work on two toilets was started two years ago, the construction was left halfway due to unknown reasons. Students are forced defecate in the open. On the other hand, water from the nullah is being used for preparation of mid-day meal as the tubewell is lying defunct since long. Though the village has power supply, it is confined to only one street.
Contacted, block officials said the road repair work has been delayed due to the cyclone. Power would be supplied to the other streets soon. The district education office has been asked to resolve the issues in the school, they said.