Bhawanipatna: Colourful pictures of children going to schools, people getting proper health facilities and local men and women getting employment in the locality were shown to innocent tribals as the government acquired their lands by paying peanuts for Indravati project back in the 80’s.
But there were some inhabitants who opposed the project and refused to part with their ancestral property, for anything in the world. Instead, they took refuge in law, and the fight is still rages on. The living condition of these people has gone from bad to worse, and as they say, the lives of their next generation will be worst.
To see how the displaced people are living under sufferance for themselves, our correspondent visited Ghutrukhal village. The first impression, it appears, as if the project has brought misfortunes and misery for these people.
Upon reaching the village, our correspondent was given a warm welcome, taking him for a godsend. Taking him a little down the memory lane, they revealed that the Ghutrukhal village he visited is not the original one and that it has been founded much later.
When asked about the original Ghutrukhal village, a villager named Dhablu Jhadia came forward to narrate what had forced them to find a new habitat and christen it after their forefathers’ village Ghutrukhal.
He said, “I have 20.96 acres of farmland. At the time of Indravati project, the amount offered by the government towards compensation seemed to be far less than its real value. So we refused the offer. Like me, there were some other families too who did not agree to accept the compensation,” he said while his fellow villagers were nodding at his every sentence.
After taking a pause, he resumed, “But when the project was made operational, we ourselves shifted to a hilly area and started living there. Not to cut off the umbilical cord with our ancestral village, we gave the same name Ghutrukhal to our new habitat.”
There are 125 members of 35 Jhodia Paraja families and 46 members of 12 Gaud families living in the new Ghutrukhal village. They had refused to part with their lands but the situation so arouse that they had no other way but leaving their own lands on their own. In order to feed their families, they have cleared some patches of the hilly region and started growing maize, millets etc. there are some others who are doing fish farming in the reservoir, with the assistance from fishery department. Yet sometimes, they have to resort to some uncommon food items like mango kernel.
Health facility is always in the wish list of these people. If urgency arises, the patients are taken to Khatiguda community health center (CHC) in Nabarangpur district in fishing boats. Cases are plenty wherein patients died on the way to hospital, and the villagers have the lack of communication facility to thank for.
The least said about the education facility available here is the best. As many as 99 per cent of the children here are illiterate for the village is devoid of any school. However, they are blessed with an Anganwadi center, but the Anganwadi worker comes to the village once in a blue moon, as she perhaps finds it difficult to come to this village in boat every day. The Anganwadi center is also left half constructed.
For about 200 villagers, two tube wells are there in the village to meet their drinking water requirement. For everything else, they use the reservoir water.
Because of no communication facilities, the villagers take to boats to reach panchayat office at Podapadar and block office at T. Rampur. Even though they are used to boat travelling, they are also becoming familiar with tragedies associated with the water journey. Cases of people losing their lives while travelling in boats are many.
The villagers have a solution to this problem. According to them, “If a bridge is constructed across the reservoir connecting the link canal which lies in between Talnagi-Ghutrukhal, the villagers would be benefitted immensely.
“This bridge will also help establish connection between Ghutrukhal and Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Rayagada districts,” they added.
They urged the state government and the district administration to consider their problems and get a bridge constructed to end their sufferings.