Bhawanipatna: Pucca roads, pure drinking water, uninterrupted electricity supply and basic healthcare facilities remain a far cry for residents of Ranrana village in Lanjigarh block’s Kankutru. Seventy nine years after Independence, several state and central schemes are yet to reach the village.
Ranrana boasts of a population of 150 people. These comprise 17 tribal families, who live in the hilly areas of the deep forest, and eke out a living by making bamboo products which they sell at Ambadola. It is a marketplace in Raygada district, 26km from the village. A family earns anything between Rs 500-1000 per month by selling these forest products.
“We don’t get the actual price of our labour owing to the presence of middlemen. Had there been proper communication facilities, we would have got the actual price,” groused Lata Majhi, a tribal woman.
Collecting mango from the forest used to be another source of income for the villagers untill sometime ago. But the practice has been discontinued by the villagers owing to the presence of Maoists in the forest areas. “Earlier, we would make around Rs 150 everyday by selling mangoes. But the fear of being caught in combing operations has kept us away from picking the fruit,” said villager Tilu Majhi.
The lack of pure drinking water has only added to their woes. A well was dug in the village five years ago, but it remains full only during the rains. It turns dry in the summer, forcing the villagers to fetch water from the river.
Not to mention the poor healthcare facilities. Pregnant women have to be carried in an inverted cot to the hospital of Kankutru panchayat, which is four kilometre from here. The ambulance cannot reach the village as it has no pucca roads. During the breakout of Diarrohea, villagers are forced to go to the Biswanathpur community health centre, which is 25km from Ranrana. Anganwadi workers cannot visit this place and stay at Kankutru panchayat.
Tiku Majhi alleged that though solar lights were installed for seven families five years ago, a year later the lights stopped working. Ever since then, they have been living in the dark. Sirika Majhi, the only matric pass student in the village, said: “Though the school is four km from here, children do not want to go there as the villagers cannot cross Sabitri river owing to floods during monsoon.” Echoing similar sentiments, village leader Gultu Majhi said despite repeated pleas for the construction of a bridge over Sabitri, no one from the district administration has done anything about it.
Only four families have been provided houses under Indira Awaas Yojana. This despite the fact that all the 17 families come from below the poverty line (BPL). Kankutru resident Kailash Chandra Sahoo alleged that the villages are being developed only in pen and paper.
The truth is far from it. The gram panchayat executive officer said owing to lack of roads, accessibility becomes a major problem. Three years ago, the villagers had started the constructtion of a road under MNREGA. But the work had to be stopped midway owing to shortage of funds. “The demand of a bridge will soon be fulfilled by the villagers,” said Srimati Majhi, chairman of the zila parishad.