Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hopes dashed in Kalahandi village

Times of India, March 9, 2014
BHAWANIPATNA: Hype and hoopla surrounded the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao's visit to the back of beyond Amjhari village, about 35 km from here, of Kalahandi district in 1993. Villagers thought it was a watershed visit and there would be a turnaround in their fortunes. But the hope was short-lived.

Twenty one years down the line, the village is still wallowing in poverty and neglect. After laying foundation stone of a railway line at Lanjigarh Road, Rao had stepped into Amjhari to see the socio-economic condition of the people. He was accompanied by then chief minister Biju Patnaik, former Union minister Kanhu Charan Lenka and former Congress MP (Kalahandi) Subash Chandra Nayak.

"After discussing with villagers, Rao had assured them that their village would be improved," said Nayak.

Murli Majhi, a ward member, had hoped for better basic amenities in the village when he welcomed Rao. So had many others, who met Rao.

The village having 75 households has a population of around 500. Murli said only 25 families have benefitted from Indira Awaas Yojana(IAY). At least 18 persons have applied for old-age pension, but are still cooling their heels. People migrating outside the state in search of work is a norm here rather than exception. This year around 25 persons have migrated to Mumbai for greener pastures, he added.

There are no health facilities worth the name. Champa Majhi, 25, of the village gave birth to a baby at her home a few days back, but the newborn died without getting proper treatment. "People reach Lanjigarh Road hospital after walking 7 km," said Murli.

Two years ago, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana was implemented at Amjhari, but power supply still remains erratic. Inhabitants trek to Kamarda village for PDS rice.

Out of 75, around 30 families are yet to get BPL cards. Binodini Majhi and her husband Daitanya Majhi, both daily wage workers, had enrolled their names for BPL card two years back, but are still waiting. She shells out Rs 14 a kg while her neighbour gets rice at Rs 2 a kg because of having a BPL card.

"Many schemes have been implemented to improve the village, but people are yet to reap the benefits due to misappropriation of funds," said former sarpanch of Kamarda Harischandra Budhia.

Collector (Kalahandi) Bijay Ketan Upadhyay said socio-economic and caste census was conducted in the district and records of the poor have been sent to the Centre and state government. After getting nods, BPL cards would be issued to the leftout residents. They will get houses under IAY after getting BPL cards. It will take some time, he said.

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