Mahakalapara: When the benefits of various social welfare schemes do not percolate down to the last man standing, misery is inevitable. The perfect example of such a situation is the tribal communities residing under this block in Kendrapara district. They have to rummage for snails for food in creeks is a pointer to this.
Reports said the Union and state governments are implementing a host of schemes to bring the vulnerable tribal communities to the mainstream. However, the benefits of these schemes do not reach the intended beneficiaries aimed at their social and financial empowerment.
The government is providing employment opportunities to people through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). However, these women move around all the day to collect snails due to lack of jobs.
If reports are to be believed the members of tribal communities are finding it hard to arrange two square meals a day for their families. They have to risk their lives by tolling hard under the scorching sun to collect snails and oysters from creeks and pits.
It takes long hours searching in the pits and nullahs to find enough of these shellfish to feed the entire family. The shocking scene came to the fore when this correspondent spotted some women mostly from Santhal and other tribal communities searching for the snails.
Women carrying a fishing net leave home early morning and move around in various areas of the block searching for snails and oysters.
They collect around five to seven kilogram of snails and oysters daily. They sell those to the members of their communities at Rs 10 to Rs 20 per kilogram.
Many also buy the snails to feed their hens and ducks while some fishermen also use them as bait to catch fish and crabs from the water bodies. People living below the poverty line buy these snails for food.
When contacted, tribal women Muguni Singh and Sumi Singh said survival has become very tough due to constant rise in prices of essential commodities for which they have no option than to collect snails to feed their families.