Statesman news Service
JAGATSINGHPUR, Feb. 17. — Hundreds of tribals, who had migrated from Mayurbhanj, Keonjharm, Sundergarh and other districts in the early 1970s to work as daily labourers for the construction of the Cuttack-Paradip railway line, are living in misery here although government makes tall claims of tribal welfare measures.
They are virtually “in no-man’s land” and no one, including the district authorities, is bothered to look into the problems faced by them. Many of these tribals had settled at Gahamagada, just 500 metres from Tirtol Bazaar in the Jagatsinghpur district.
A panchayat samiti member, Mr Rabana Murmu, says that over 300 of such tribals had been living in the area for decades. He said that their homestead land in the native district was either damaged or encroached in the 35 years that have passed by since they had settled in Jagatsinghpur district and for all practical reasons, the tribals belonged to Jagatsinghpur district.
Many of them have obtained ration cards and their names are included in the voters’ list.
Earlier, they had met their expenses by working as daily labourers in the now-defunct Sarala spinning mill.
The tribals said that although 15 families had got 10 bags of cements and Rs 50,00 for the construction of their houses under the Indira Awas Yojana after the supercyclone, the construction work could not be completed after protests from villagers and the sarpanch.
The local people demand the eviction of tribals from the government land as their presence would deprive them of the meagre jobs available in the area. Search for work has left the tribal population high and dry. They allege that they are not even getting rice — provided under the BPL scheme and kerosene. One tribal called Champura Murmu said that they were purchasing kerosene at Rs 15 a litre, while paying Rs 10 for one kilogram rice.
He says that since he has no money to purchase rice and kerosene, he collects mushrooms to meet the needs of his six-member family. Sine the tribals are not covered under any health scheme, many old persons are bedridden in a critical condition, says panchayat samithi member Mr Murmu.
Such persons as Hisi Hembram, Sita Murmu and Usha Murmu have been waiting for the old- age pension for three to four years, and the cause of the delay is attributed to the fact that they are reluctant to give the bribe of Rs 100 demanded by the officials concerned.
It is alleged that neither officials nor politicians visit the village where the tribals are living.
The tehsildar of Tirtol, Mr A Kar, said steps had been taken to provide land to the tribals for their rehabilitation.