Keonjhar: Unhealthy living conditions, consumption of spurious and toxic liquor, lack of safe drinking water and poor healthcare facility among other factors are taking a toll on primitive Juang tribals living in Bansapal block of Keonjhar district, which have resulted in premature deaths of some tribals, a report said. Death of two Juang tribals in a span of two days in the first week of July in Bayapandadhar village under Bansapal block is a case in point. The deceased were identified as Madha Juang, 35, and Babula Juang, 25.
The deaths have sparked panic and concern among the tribals. This year, over 12 Juangs have died prematurely for various reasons in the village. Some conscious villagers held unhealthy living conditions, consumption of spurious liquor, contaminated water and lack of healthcare facility responsible for their deaths. Deceased Madha is survived by his wife and three children while Babula is survived by his wife and a differently-abled child. They are now reeling under grueling poverty after the deaths of their sole breadwinners with no help or financial assistance from the administration, even though crores of rupees are said to be spent for their development. Their deplorable condition stands in contrast to the government claims. They have been given job cards, but are yet to get work under any livelihood scheme or poverty alleviation scheme like the Mahatma Gandhi Nation Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
As a result, they have often had to migrate for work or live in hunger at their home when they do not get any work. Villagers voiced concern over lack of any assistance to these bereaved families despite the government having provisions to provide financial assistance to poor families under social security schemes in the event of the death of the lone breadwinner of a family. The premature deaths have become a matter of concern for the tribals.
Many of them are dying after developing a swollen stomach while the rest are dying after being discharged from the hospital, local social activist Anand Charan Sethi and Birabar Nayak said. They demanded the district administration to intervene and rush in a medical team and conduct a probe to ascertain the actual reason behind the premature deaths of the tribals. Suryamani Sahu, an Anganwadi worker, said that Madha had a swollen stomach and was admitted to a hospital, but died after he returned home from the hospital. Babula died after being afflicted with jaundice.
Sources said the villagers eke out their living by working as casual laborers due to lack of any livelihood opportunities. They live a life of drudgery without decent sources of livelihood. Availing of timely healthcare is a dream for them. Many of them often go hungry in the absence of livelihood, the two social activists said. The sanitary condition or cleanliness is worst in the village while many of them are suffering from malnutrition due to a lack of nutritious food. Many of them live in shanties or ramshackle houses where their life becomes miserable when rainwater leaks in the monsoon. “I have covered the house with polythene sheets,” said Punia Juang, a villager. He said that his co-villagers like Nanda Juang, Rathia Juang, and Sana Juang are living in polythene-covered houses.
Hence, housing schemes are a dream for them. A solar pump has been installed in the village, but it fails to deliver water because of technical snag. Left with no option, they often fetch water from a nearby stream to meet their daily water needs.