गुरुवार, 28 जुलाई 2016

Fact-finding Report on Hunger and Malnutrition among Kutia Kondh tribes of Kalahandi District, Odisha

Fact-finding Report
 Hunger, Destitution, Deprivation and Malnutrition among Kutia Kondh Primitive Tribal Groups residing on Hilltop of Niyamagiri in Lanjigarh Block of Kalahandi district, Odisha

Date of Visit of the Team: 25.7.16

Members of Fact-Finding Team:

1.     Pradip Pradhan
State, Convener, Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
M-9937843482, Email- foodrightsodisha@gmail.com
2.     Prof. Jantrana Parikhit
President, Odisha Nagarik Samaj, Bhubaneswar
M- 9937234088
3.     Sanjeev Satapathy
RTI Activist & Local volunteer, Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi
4.     Rabi Narayan  Singh
RTI Activist and Local Volunteer, Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi

Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
Address- Plot No:- 393/2035, Padmabati Vihar, Post-Sailashree Vihar, Chandrasekhar Pur, Bhubaneswar-751021

Fact-finding Report on
 Hunger, Destitution, Deprivation and Malnutrition among Kutia Kondh Primitive Tribal Groups residing on Hilltop of Niyamagiri in Lanjigarh Block of Kalahandi district, Odisha


In view of repeated coverage of the news in media about poverty and malnutrition among various Primitive Tribal Groups  in different parts of the state  due to callous and indifferent attitude of   state administration and subsequent  steps  taken by the State Govt. to dilute the attention  of public from these issues, it  was decided by Right to Food Campaign, Odisha  to keep  alive  the  issues affecting life and livelihood of the tribals by brining  to limelight  their problem  in public domain  through fact-finding visits. It  is an effort  to establish facts  about  the problems  encountered  by the tribals  and their suffering, untimely death of their  children, mal-administration in tribal areas, mal-implementation of  welfare programme coupled  with  corruption  and misappropriation of fund etc. and generate  debate  among all concerned in order to  bring them  to  mainstream  of development. Accordingly, the Fact-finding Team of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha had visited three areas i.e, Juang area of Nagada village under Sukinda block, Kolha habitation of Biripur under Dharmashala block of Jajpur district, Paudi Bhuyan area of Lahunipada Block of Sundargarh district. Then, the Team visited Kutia Kondh PTG area of Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district.

Visit of Fact-finding Team to Lanjigarh block   

On 25.7.16, a four-member Fact-finding Team consisting of  Pradip Pradhan, State, Convener, Right to Food Campaign, Odisha, Prof. Jantrana Parikhit, President, Odisha Nagarik Samaj, Bhubaneswar, Sanjeev Satapathy, RTI Activist & Local volunteer, Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi and Rabi Narayan  Singh, RTI Activist  had visited  to  Lanjigarh  block  of Kalahandi  district  to monitor the status of Juang tribes, their livelihood, education, health, food habit  and accessibility  to various welfare programme including  food security programme. The Team visited Trilochan Pur Gram Panchayat , habitation of   Kutia Kondh Tribal Groups  which is 10 kms  from Lanjigarh block head quarter. This Panchayat is located on Hilltop of Niyamagiri, a mountain with deposit of tons of Bauxites   worth thousands of crores of rupees. It is needless to mention here that during interaction with    Kutia Kondh tribes, the Team realised their anger against proposed mining operation by Vedant Company and their determination to protect Niyamagiri Hill.

The Team visited a number of   scattered villages dominated by Kutia Kondh tribes like Trilochanpur, Khumndipadar, Phuldumber, Palberi, Kunakadu, Tadijhula etc.  Each   village is consisting of 8 to 10 Kutia Kondh families residing in Hill Top.   The Team reached at 11 am in the Panchayat and found none in the village except few older women, lactating woman found in the house. The members were appraised that they had gone to forest and would return back at 1 o’clock. There is pucca or concrete road connected to the villages. A small mountainous track leads to the villages visited by the team. After the tribals returned to the villages, the team interacted with them about  their  food menu, health  condition and status of  food security programme and came across malnourished children and their wretched condition.  Sri Chandru Majhi, a tribal boy active in Nimayagiri movement guided us and helped communicating us with the Tribals.  As Sarapanch is tribal woman, she feared to talk to team and did not come out for interaction.

Findings of the Team

1.                   Mismanagement of  ICDS programme
At first, the Team  visited Anganwadi Centre  of   Khemundipadar  village of Trilochanpur  Gram  Panchayat and found  only 5  children eating  rice and watery  dal without any vegetables. The Anganwadi worker was found absent and the Helper managing the centre. While inspecting the food, the team found that less quantity of rice is provided to the children.  Though there are 20 number of children enrolled in the centre, only 5 children had come to   take meal. No register and document was found in the centre to understand about exact status of management of the centre.

In other villages like Phuldumber, the Anganwadi centre was found closed. Neither Anganwadi Worker nor the children had come to the centre. The villagers said that the Anganwadi Worker never comes   the centre.  Telati Majhi  and Rupali Majhi holding 2 year baby   of Phuldumber village ,  Pregnant  and Lactating woman  said that  they were provided  one packet  Chhatua  and 5 eggs  per month  against two pocket and eight eggs.  The tribal women are not aware about Mamata yojana.  Nobody has received Rs. 5000/- under Mamata Yojana. Most of the children were found malnourished, necked and suffering from disease.   When the Team met and asked Jayant Bathli, Anganwadi Worker, she could not give any satisfactory answer about management of centre and did not show updated register like attendance register, Chhatua distribution Register etc. 

2.                   Inedible food as staple food for tribals
As per guideline of Antodaya Ana Yojana and provision of National Food Security Act, each Kutia Kondh Tribe is entitled to get 35 kg rice   per month.  But the team came across many families have been deprived of it and enlisted as priority Household with allocation of 5 kg rice per head per month. During interaction with tribal women,  Maja Majhi , Majameni Majhi  said that they were allotted  15 kg rice each per month under NFSA. They manage with this rice for 10 days only. On query about food consumed in other days, they say that if they have money, they purchase rice at the rate of Rs. 25/- to Rs. 30/- per kg from local market. Otherwise they consume mango kernel and trunk of Salap tree after making it flour and  mixing it with hot water. The Team came across women preparing mango kernel for food. As reported, it causes huge indigestion and stomach problem of the children.  During investigation, rice was not found in any house except PDS rice. PDS which has the mandate to ensure food security of the poor has failed to check hunger in the area. Due to food crisis and unavailability of rice, vegetables and other food items, they are forced to consume inedible food.

3.                   No employment for Kutia Kondh      

During interaction with the villagers, they have not got any employment under NREGA for years together. Work under NREGA has not been undertaken by the Gram Panchayat. The tribals are not aware about job card.

4.       No implementation of RTE Act.
There is no primary school in these villages.  No child goes to the school.

5.       Non-Implementation of IAY and Biju Pucca Gruha Yojana
The State Govt. is implementing   Rural Housing schemes to provide financial support to the poor people for construction of house. But while enquiring about any allotment to any house to any family, it was found that only two houses in all three villages are covered under these schemes. Most of the houses are in dilapidated condition.

6.       Failure of Kutia Kondh Development Agency (KKDA)
This is a special agency functioning since 1986 with central assistance to carry out welfare programme for Kutia Kondh tribes.  When the team visited KKDA office, the team found absence of Rama ch. Behera, Project Officer and interacted with Durga Madhab Rath, senior clerk to know about details of programme undertaken by KKDA for socio-economic development of tribals. He said that only 16 villagers are covered under KKDA. There are three types of programme with cent percent central assistance undertaken for development of Kutia Kondh.  These are Conservation-cum- Development Plan, Special Central Assistance and fund allocated under article 275 of Indian constitution.   Activities undertaken for tribals are health programme, promotion of agriculture and Horticulture, irrigation, soil conservation, drinking water, road connectivity, infrastructure development, Girls’ Education etc. The fund allocated under KKDA in the last three years is as follows.

                                                                                                                                                                ( Rs in lakhs)
Special Central Assistance
Conservation-cum- Development Plan
Fund allocated under article 275

It was also observed that though this   Agency is functioning since last 30 years, most of Kutia Kondh villages are not covered under KKDA. Total number of Kutia Kondh dominated 21 villages of Trilochan Pur (17), Lanjigarh (2)   and Chhatra Pur (2)  Panchayats are not covered  under Kutia Kondh Development Agency.  In 2004, Sri Saswat Mishra, then Collector of Kalahandi had sent a letter No. 652/ITDA dated 7.8.2004 to State Govt.   recommending for reorganisation of the area of Kutia Kondha Development Agency, Lanjigarh and inclusion of 21 villages of Kutia Kondh tribe to be covered under the programme.  On 5.5.2005, the Commissioner-um-Secretary, Department of SC and ST development had sent a letter to Director, SCSTRTI to produce the feasibility report about the proposal.  In 2010, Sri R.S. Gopalan, Collector, Kalahandi had sent a letter to State Govt. for extension of geographical coverage of area of Kutia Kondh to 21 villages. But till yet, the State Govt. has not taken any steps to include Kutia Kondh villages under KKDA. Most of the villages have been left out from development programme. 

Analysis of problem and Recommendations
1.    Kutia Kondh is the most vulnerable primitive tribal groups residing in Niyamagiri Hill in Kalahandi district. They are very traditional and practising podu cultivation for survival. They have their own culture, religious belief, tradition and food habit. They have remained neglected by successive Govt. and isolated from development process. Though a number of development projects have been undertaken for them, it has no way helped in socio-economic development of tribals due to corruption, misappropriation of fund meant for them, lack of proper planning etc.
2.    It was observed that not a single welfare or food security programme is successfully implemented in these villages. Though they are entitled to get Antodaya Card ad 35 kg of rice per month, many Kutia Kondh tribal families have been denied it.  Even the rice allotted them are not sufficient to satisfy their food requirements in a month. Lack of resources, they neither go for cultivation nor purchase vegetable from market for household consumption. They use to take rice and leaves only as household consumption. Besides that they use to take mango kernel and trunk of  Salap tree as food at the time of acute food crisis.    
3.    NREGA has completely failed to provide employment to the tribals.  During visit, the team observed that nobody has got work under NREGA. No labour intensive work is undertaken under NREGA in these villages for years together.
4.    ICDS which is the most important food security programme  with mandate  to provide nutritious food to the children  has  disastrously  failed to check malnutrition  among Kutia Kondh Tribals  due to huge corruption, irregularities in distribution of food, negligence of  ICDS officials, lack of monitoring etc.  The Team got astonished that Anganwadi centre gets closed for months together. No child has been immunised. 
5.    There are no medical facilities available for the Kutia Kondh tribe.  Primary Health centre is located 20 kms away from Kutia Kondh villages.
6.    There is no agriculture and horticulture development in the area. The tribals are following traditional method of podu cultivation and growing some minor millet.
7.    Kutia Kondh Development Authority has failed miserably to bring any changes in life ad livelihood of the tribals.   Though this agency is functioning since last 30 years, it has not been able to cover all Kutia Kondh villages due to callous attitude of state administration and lack of administrative seriousness. Though   District administration has recommended inclusion of 21 Kutia Kondh dominated villages under KKDA since 2004, the state administration is sitting on files till yet.

1.       All the Kutia Kondh families should be allocated 35 kg rice under Antodaya Anna Yojana.
2.       The state Govt. should carry out special survey to find out requirement of food-grains of each tribal family and accordingly allocate rice and other items   to them in order to save them from hunger.
3.       ICDS project should be streamlined with functional of Angawadi centre and providing all services under the project. There must be close monitoring of these activities by independent monitoring body at district level.
4.       Stern action must be taken against the officials responsible for non-function of Anganwadi centre and non-distribution of food-grains to the beneficiaries and misappropriation of fund.
5.       Each pregnant and lactating woman should be paid Rs. 5000.00 timely under Mamata Yojana. The women who have not received  Rs. 5000.00 for  years together should be provided   at the earliest.
6.       The State Govt. should provide 200 days of work under NREGA at the earliest. Action must be  taken against  Sarapanch and Block officials for having failed to carry out NREGA work in these villages
7.       As per proposal of district administration Kalahandi, all the villages of Kutia Kondh should come under KKDA and extensive welfare programme like agriculture and horticulture development work should be undertaken on war-footing way. 
8.       The Team came across a number of children suffering from minor ailments which requires urgent treatment. Due to    absence of road connectivity, they  could not come to hospital. So  there must be mobile health team  to visit to these villages in every two to three days  to render medical services.
9.       As road connectivity is the biggest problem, the district administration should take steps to ensure construction of road as quick as possible.
10.   The District administration must take special care to provide primary education  to  their  children  on line of Right to Education Act. 

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