Kendrapara: The government has implemented several schemes for Dalits aiming to bring them to the mainstream by providing social justice, security and other benefits. Had the objectives of the government fulfilled in letter and spirit?
If a casual visitor visits the Kajala’s Kelasahi, then he would come to know how the government -sponsored projects and schemes have become a day dream for these ill-fated poor Dalits .
During the reign of King Narendra, three Dalit (Kela community ) families settled at Kajala by cutting trees in the forest. Later, with the passing of time, a human habitation came up in the area. After some years, they came to know that the land on which they were staying belonged to Gobindajew temple.
Every year, the managing committee of Gobindajew temple used to visit their village and collect house cess from the Kelasahi, alleged villagers of Kelasahi.
According to sources, more than 30 families, belonging to Kela community, with a population of not less than 200, have been residing in Kelasahi, located at Kajala village under ward No-21 of Kendrapara Municipality for more than a century.
Basically, the villagers are manual labour while some others are pig breeders. Though they have been residing at Kajala in the municipality area for a century, they have been deprived of basic amenities . “We were landless persons and staying under Kendrapara Municipality, but neither the local administration nor the district administration has ever thought of rehabilitating the families by providing land and record of rights in our names”, alleged the Dalits of Kelasahi.
“We were residing without government’s benefits. The district administration has never paid a visit to our human habitation and they make us feel like untouchables. Though we have obtained voter identity cards, Aadhaar cards, subsidised food grains under NFSA’s ration cards and some of our elderly persons are getting old age pension and also widow pension, the district administration has failed to enrol our names in housing schemes,” said Ramchandra Das, a septuagenarian of Kelasahi, who has been getting old age pension from the administration.
Though all their dwellings are thatched houses, the district administration has failed to provide pucca houses to the Kela families under various housing schemes.
They do not have record of rights in their names. If any fellow villager wants to convert his thatched house into an asbestos one, he has to take permission from the Gobindajew temple managing committee. But it is not allowing permission for permanent construction.
Though most of the villagers managed to get electricity supply, it comes to the households in a dangerous way: the wires were tied to bamboos. During the rainy season, the loose electric wires pose grave danger to residents. Every year, five to six persons receive electric shock, alleged Shyam Das, a villager.
The electricity department, about five years back, came with an electric pole to install it in the village to provide proper power connection, but they returned without installing the electric pole as the Gobindajew managing committee members denied the department to install the electric pole. Meanwhile, the electric pole is lying in the village, said Rajbar Das, another villager.
Due to ignorance and illiteracy, the Dalits of Kelasahi too fail to avail several benefits. They do not know Harischandra Yojana, Mamata Yojana, Mahaprayan Yojana and the benefits, said villagers.
“The government has been providing toilets under Swachh Bharat Abhijan, but they are yet to reach the village. Everybody defecates in the open. Most of the time, the women have to face insults from the people. “As we are daily wagers, if we fail to collect potable water in time from taps, then we have to collect water from Govari river to drink and also for cooking purpose,” Kuni Das, sardar of the Kelasahi, said.
“During election time, several political leaders generally visit the Kelasahi and make promises and give assurances that all the basic amenities will be provided by extending all government sponsored schemes meant for poor Dalits. But once the poll is over, we become unwanted for them,” alleged the villagers of Kelasahi.
Meanwhile, the poor Dalits urged the district collector and the state government to rehabilitate them by providing land patta records in their names along with enrolling their names in the ongoing government-sponsored projects and schemes meant for them.
When contacted collector Reghu G stated that as the Kelasahi villagers do not have record of rights, they were deprived of government benefits in several schemes.
The district administration would take steps to rehabilitate them, but not in the municipality area.
Meanwhile, the district administration would take steps to electrify their village in a proper manner. Also, toilets would be constructed under Swachh Bharat Abhijan.