State-sponsored Murder of Juang Children in Nagada village under Sukinda Block of Jajpur district, Odisha
(A case of Callous, careless and negligence of inept and self-complacent bureaucracy and insensitivity of corrupt political leadership)
-A Fact-finding Report of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha-
Date- 15th and 16th July 2016
Members of Fact-finding Team:
1. Sri Pradip Pradhan
Member of Advisory Group of NHRC on Right to Food, M- 9937843482
2. Sri Sudhir Mohanty, Advocate, Odisha High Court, M-9861063290
3. Sri Kalandi Mallik, Dalit Activist and District Convener of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha, M- 9938618390
4. Sri Sanjay Sahu, RTI Activist, M-8658416694
5. Sri Debenbdra Kumar Rout, RTI Activist and Local Volunteer,M- 7381939027
6. Sri Indrajit Mohanta, RTI Activist and Local Volunteer, M- 9040303126
Report of Fact-finding Team on Infant Deaths, Hunger and Malnutrition in Nagada village under Sukinda Block of Jajpur distrit, Odisha
Having been disturbed over the news published in different news papers on 12th July 2016, about 19 infant deaths of Juang tribes ( Primitive Tribal Groups) in Nagada village coming under administrative jurisdiction of Sukinda block of Jajpur district, the members of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha decided to send a Fact-finding Team immediately to the said village to assess the situation of alleged infant death due to malnutrition, reason of infant deaths and rise of hunger and malnutrition in Nagada village, socio-economic condition of Juang tribes, status of implementation of food security Programme and necessary steps required to be taken up in future to combat the problem.
Visit of Fact-finding Team
Accordingly, a 6-member fact-finding Team consisting of Sri Pradip Pradhan, Member of Advisory Group of NHRC on Right to Food, Sri Sudhir Mohanty, Advocate, Odisha High Court, Sri Kalandi Mallik, Dalit Activist and District Convener of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha, Sri Sanjay Sahu, RTI Activist, Sri Debenbdra Kumar Rout, RTI Activist and Local Volunteer, Sri Indrajit Mohanta, RTI Activist had visited Nagada village, epicentre of infant deaths on 15th and 16th July 2016.
On first Day, the team reached in Ashok Jhari village of Chungudipal Gram Panchayat at 11.30 am and interacted with Smt. Satya Bhama Dehuri, Anganwadi Worker about status of Angawadi Centre of Nagada village. It took 30 minutes to interview with her. Then, the Team moved to climb Hill to go to Nagada at 12.30 o’clock. The villagers advised the team not to go to Nagada village, as it will take minimum 6 hours journey (to and fro) and not possible to return back in night in mountainous forest track. However the team dared to climb mountain and covered half of stony track, but could not move further due to heavy rain and confusion about track and timing of reaching at destination. The Time was 3 PM. It was decided to return back and start journey tomorrow at 8 am. They spent night in near-by village.
On second day, three members got reluctant and scared to go to Nagada village. However, rest of the Team members Sri Pradip Pradhan, Sanjay Sahu and Kalandi Mallik, Dalit Activist of Jajpur district started journey from Ashok Jhari village at 8.40 am. The mountainous track leading to Tala Nagada village ( village consists of three Hamlets) is around 10 kms. The Team took around 3 hours journey to reach at Nagada village and spent two hours there covering all three hamlets and interacting with few Juang tribes about their conditions and status of their children, health hazards, food security, implementation of food security programme, assess pf Govt. intervention etc. The Team started return journey at 1.30 pm from top of mountain amidst heavy rainfall which continues upto 6 o’clock. Being suffered physically a lot covering mountain track in midst of rain, the team reached at foot of the mountain at 5 PM. On the way, the Team members also came across visit of many Govt. officials to Nagada village with hesitation. Many officials like Sub-Collector; Kalingnagar was founding returning back without visiting Nagada village.
Objectives of Visit of the Team
a. To find out the reason of infant deaths of the village and status of health condition of other children.
b. To find out status of implementation of food security programme and other welfare measures taken up by the district administration.
c. To study the socio-economic condition of the Juang tribals, reason of hunger and malnutrition.
d. To assess the intervention of the administration to address the problem of the people and to heck malnutrition.
e. Remedial measures needed to be taken up to address the problem of the tribes in a sustainable manner.
Nagada Village- A Nightmare
Nagada, a revenue village and habitation of Juang Primitive Tribal Groups is surrounded by mountainous forest from all sides. It is 18 kms from Chungudipal Gram Panchayat office and around 20 kms from Tata Mining Hospital. There is no road connected to the village. Rocky mountainous track is the only path and medium of communication for the tribal people from their village to Gram Panchayat and rest of the world. The total population of Juang tribe is around 250 with 36 families (the exact information about population could not be obtained, as the Team could not meet Sarapanch). Tata Mining operation is just 15 kms from this area. It was observed that all the people are thin and short. Almost all children within the age group of 3 to 4 years are seen malnourished. All of them are illiterate and could not understand Odia language. There is neither Anganwadi Centre nor primary school in the village. A private Chatashali school (pre-primary education centre) is running in the village managed by ASPIRE, an NGO which operates from New Delhi. No Govt. official except Anganawdi Worker has visited this village within last 10 years, reported by the villagers during interaction with the Team.
Interview with Satya Bhama Dehuri, Anganwadi Workers of Nagada village
On 15.7.16, the Team members decided to meet Anganwadi Worker ( AWW) who is the lowest functionary in charge of Management of Anganwadi centre on which the whole edifice of ICDS project , most popular food security programme designed to check malnutrition and provide nutritious food to the children with age group of 6 months to 6 years and increase nutritional standard of the children, stands. It deserves to be mentioned here that ICDS is one of the most important schemes designed to provide six important services free of cost to both pregnant and lactating woman and children. These are immunisation, supplementary nutritious food, health check up, referral services, etc. On query about status of implementation of ICDS programme in Nagada village, Satya Bhama Dehuri, AWW said “ she has been working as Anganwadi Worker from 2007. There is no Aganwadi Centre in Nagada village. One Angawadi Centre is running in Guhiashala, a revenue village which is around 5 km from Nagada village. There are 56 children within age group of 0-6 years and 11 pregnant and lactating woman in Nagada village. Nobody gets breakfast and noon meal under ICDS programme. The children and pregnant & lactating woman and children use to get THR (Take Home Ration) like two packets Chhatua and 8 eggs per month. No immunisation programme has been conducted in the village. Nor Village Health and Nutrition Day is organised in the village since her joining in 2007. Neither Smt. Tilottama Mohapatra, Child Development Programme Officer nor Mamata Dehuri, ANM has visited Nagada to monitor ICDS programme and health condition of the children”. On query about frequency of her visit to Nagada, she said that due to long distance and communication problem, she could not go to Nagada village often but once or twice in a month.
ICDS, Health and Sanitation
While observing the whole village, the Team members came across almost all children being suffered from malnutrition. The Team interacted with few tribal women like Turi Padhan, Kamala Padhan, Guri Padhan, Jaina Padhan, Shukru Padhan, Galei Padhan, Maguli Padhan said that they usually give birth child in their house. They never go hospital. As there is no Govt. medical nearer to village and Tata Mining medical is 18 kms from their village, they never go to medical for treatment. Tuhi Padhan holding her two years baby said that she has four children. No immunisation programme has been conducted. They are also not aware about quantity of Chhatua and egg they are entitled to get it. Whatever quantity of Chhatua and egg is given by Agawadi Worker, they take it without checking and questioning it. They use to take egg from Anganwadi Worker once in a month. On query about Mamata Yojana, it was found that no woman is aware about this scheme and nobody has received Rs. 5000.00 under this scheme. Sanitary environment is very bad. They are hardly aware about sanitation. There is no drinking water facility in the village. They use water from stream flowing through river for bathing and drinking purpose.
Food Security situation of Juang
The Team has the interest to know about staple food of Juang and common food consumed by them and their children. While enquiring about it, the Team members got astonished to know that they consume only rice, leaves and salt. While inspecting their house, no dal or vegetable like potato, onion and oil was noticed in the village. In case of non-availability of rice, they consume roots. The Team members also noticed woman preparing forest Chhatu (Mushroom collected from forest) to boil with hot water for consumption. They do not have idea about agriculture or horticulture farming. No Govt. scheme is implemented by Agricultural Dept. for development of farming in the village. They hardly grow paddy and millets and consume it. As they do not have money, they could not purchase food or vegetables from the market.
Status of Targeted PDS
As per National Food Security Act and guideline of Antodaya Anna Yojana, all Primitive Tribal Groups including Juang are entitled to avail 35 kg of rice per month. But in this village, many families have been covered under Priority Households enlisted under National Food Security Act. In view of number of family members, quantity of rice (5 kg per person per month) is determined per month. A four-member family is getting 20 kg rice under Priority Household category. But if this family will be covered under Antodaya Anna Yojana, they would have got 35 kg rice per month. Faulty survey conducted by Govt. in this village has deprived many families to get 35 kg rice under Antodaya Anna Yojana.
Status of NREGA
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme implemented under NREGA has the mandate to provide 100 days guaranteed employment to the families in rural area. During interaction with the villagers, it was found that they have not got any work under NREGA since last several years. The Team could not notice any job card in the village. It is clear that NREGS work is not being undertaken in the village.
Status of Rural Housing programme
The State Govt. is implementing schemes like Indira Awas Yojana and Biju Pucca Gruha Yojana in order to provide house to the poor and deserving family free of cost. But in Nagada village, the Team could not notice a single house covered under these Rural Housing Scheme. Many of the house constructed out of mud and thatched house are in dilapidated condition and not suitable for living. The tribals also do not have idea about this scheme.
One-day devoted to get Rs. 300/-
On 15.7.16, while the Team members were returning from Hill, they came across a group of older people returning to village. It was raining heavily and time was 4.30 PM. The Team members halted them and enquired to know purpose of the visit. They said that they had come to receive pension money from Gram Panhayat which is 18 kms from their village. On query about their journey, they said that they started journey early morning and reached at 11 am in Panhayat office. They had taken only two piece of singada in the whole day without meal. They received Rs. 300 each as pension under Old age pension scheme and returning to village. They spent whole day covering 36 kms (to and fro) to get just pension amount of Rs. 300.00.
Status of Intervention of Govt. in post-infant death period
During visit, the Team had assessed steps taken by the Govt. to address the issues relating to infant deaths. As reported by media, 19 infants have already died due to malnutrition. Primarily, the State Govt. has taken it health hazard and started its operation for treatment of children by sending medical team. Few infants have been admitted in Tata Hospital. Except it, District administration has not taken any steps to improve health and nutritional standard of the children. On 16.7.16, the Team came across host of Govt. officials like Director, Social Welfare, District Child Protection Officer, Member, State Child Rights Commission, Supervisor, ICDS project and many others visiting Nagada village to assess the situation. Local MLA Sri Priti Ranjan Ghadei had visited the village. It was felt that the State Govt. could not find the ways to address the problem, because they have remained disconnected from rest of the world.
It was noticed that a free kitchen has been opened by T.S.R.D. (a social wing of Tata Company) in the village from 14.7.16. Only rice, dal and soya curry without any vegetables like potato and onion is served to the children once in a day. It might have been organised to provide food to the children keeping in view their food insecurity. If it is so, why the vegetables like potato, onion and other curry items were not served to the children. Why food is not served to the villages mostly women who are equally malnourished.
Overall Assessment of the Situation and recommendation of the Team
1. Sukinda is rich area with deposit of huge minerals like iron, Manganese, chromites worth lakhs of crores of rupees. A number of Companies like Tata Steel, IMFA, Jindal, Nilahal Ispat are operating, extracting minerals and carrying business in the area. These Companies make profit of crores of rupees and strengthen their business world out of it. With profit gained from this area, they lead pump and luxurious life and dream of modern India. The idea behind allowing operation of the companies and setting up of Industry by the State Govt. is that with huge investment, the area will be developed, job will be created and socio-economic standard of the people will be developed, livelihood will be enhanced etc. This is the modern development concept of the Ruling Class. CSR fund (Corporate Social Responsibility) generated out of profit of the Companies and peripheral development fund will be spent for development of the area as well the local people. But it was proved wrong in context of Nagada village. This village is just 15 km from mining operational area of Tata Company which has not yet seen light of the development. This village still suffers from hunger, malnutrition, drinking water crisis etc. the tribals area leading sub-human life without drinking water, electricity, food and lack of road connectivity. Exploiting resources of the area, the Companies, local politicians, MLAs, MPs and officials have been benefitted a lot at the cost of life and livelihood of the local people. Nagada village is one of many villages which are suffering from hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, illiteracy in Sukinda Block. The callous, careless, indifferent attitude of corrupt bureaucracy and insensitivity of political leadership and exploitative character of Companies have kept the local people out of purview of development in the area.
2. Infant death in Nagada village is not only case of health hazard from medical point of view. It is a case of chronic hunger of Juang tribals leading to malnutrition of their children and subsequent death due to lack of medical treatment.
3. Causalities in Nagada village is due to sheer negligence of the administration in charge of monitoring and implementing various programme. This village has been left out of development project of the state Govt. for years together.
4. Many families have not been provided Ration Card under National Food Security Act due to irregularities in survey conducted by Govt. to identify eligible households. Secondly, as per guideline of Antodaya Anna Yojana, all Juang families deserve to get each 35 kg rice per month. Most of Juang families have not been covered till yet.
5. Even after 70 years of independence and in midst of modern industrial development in Sukinda, there is no road connectivity to Nagada village. The tribals use forest track and cover 10 kms by walking to get any service or benefit available under various scheme. Due to lack of road connectivity, they could not bring their children to hospital for treatment. Govt. medical team never visits this area to provide free medical service to the people of Nagada village. The people spend one day ( Rs. 200/- labour wage per day) to get Rs. 300/- pension amount under Old Age Pension Scheme.
6. Almost all development programme and food security programme like ICDS, MDM, PDS, NREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, Biju Pucca Ghara Yojana, forest development programme, agricultural and Horticultural development programme etc. are not implemented in the area. No Govt. official, local politician and Panchayat representative has ever visited the village to monitor any work or assess the condition of the people. There is special tribal sub-plan Juang Development Agency formed to carry out various welfare measures for socio-economic development of Juang tribes. But this agency has no presence in Nagada village which is most vulnerable pocket in Sukinda block.
7. Food insecurity is a biggest threat to their life and livelihood. The people consume only rice, root and salt without any vegetables added to their meal. There is no cultivation in the village. Rice available to them under PDS is not at all sufficient to them. They do not consume any nutritious food. To get nutritious food for the children is distant dream for them. It was found that every woman and children are suffering from malnutrition.
8. ICDS programme, one of the most important food security programme to ensure nutritious food to the children is not implemented in Nagada village. There is no Anganwadi centre being operationalised in the village.
9. No employment generation programme under NREGA has been undertaken in the village since last 10 years. The people have not got single work under NREGA till yet.
10. There is no Govt. school in the village. Due to callousness of the administration, the children have been deprived of getting free education guaranteed under Right to Education Act. As there is no school, the children have been deprived of getting Mid-day-Meal.
11. The Team also noticed that no Juang family has been allotted forest land patta under Forest Rights Act. Neither the forest officials nor NGOs have visited the village to sensitise the villagers about Forest Rights Act.
1. Responsibility must be fixed on the officials responsible for implementation and monitoring of development projects and food security programme in this Gram Panchayat and stringent action must be taken against them.
2. Few days back, Chief Minister has expressed satisfaction over the performance of Minister for Women and Child Development and Minister for Health and Family Welfare handing their concerned Department. But this was proved false in case of Nagada village. This is not a single case but one of the many cases in tribal region mostly among Primitive Tribal Groups where infant death due to malnutrition and hunger is acute and food insecurity is very high with lack of medical accessibility. These two Ministers are morally responsible for it and should be dismissed from the Ministry.
3. As per guideline of Antodaya Anna Yojana, all the Juang families are entitled to get 35 kg rice per month. In Nagada village, most of the Juang families have been deprived to get benefit under AAY. Responsibility must be fixed on the officials responsible for it and Criminal proceedings must be initiated against them. The State Govt. must carry out work on war-footing way to ensure 35 kg rice to each family of Nagada village.
4. The people do not get employment for their livelihood. To provide employment to the poor rural people, the state Govt. is implementing NREGA in rural and tribal areas. But it was found that NREGA work has not been undertaken in Nagada village since last 10 years. It is case of sheer negligence of BDO, Sukinda and Sarapanch of Chungudipal Gram Panchayat. Stern action must be taken against BDO of Sukinda Block and Sarapanch of Chungudipal Gram Panchayat. The State Govt. should start NREGA work immediately in order to provide employment to them.
5. The State Govt. should open a special ICDS centre in the village with appointment of all staff and availability of all facilities. A trained Anganwadi worker must be appointed to take special care of Juang children.
6. Priority must be given for ensuring road connectivity to the village. Due to lack of road facility, the Govt. officials could not reach in the village.
7. Solar electrification and Drinking water facilities through setting up Tube-well should be done on war footing way in the village.
8. Each Company has huge CSR fund. But this fund is not utilised for development of the people residing around the industrial belt of Kalinganagar. The State Govt. should monitor the utilisation of CSR fund and ensuring fund to be utilised for development of tribals including Nagada village.
9. The Team neither prescribes nor subscribes the idea of displacing and rehabilitating Juang tribes in another locality. They are accustomed with their environment and cultural habit. Displacing them to other areas is not the solution to address their problem. It is fact that they have been deprived to get benefits for years together for which they have suffered. So, the implementation of all the development projects under Tribal Sub-plan sheme and Juang Development sub-plan scheme and food security programme and various activities under Agricultural and Horticultural scheme will no doubt enhance their livelihood and capacity to survive and grow more to compete with modern world.
10. The district administration should start allotting pucca house to all Juang families under Indira Awas Yojana and Biju Pucca Yojana.
11. Exclusive Ashram School should be opened in Nagada village to provide education to all the children of Juang tribe.
12. Forest land patta and community forest rights must be given to Juang families on war-footing way.
13. Nagada issue should be taken as learning for Govt. The State Govt. should not be complacent with taking few steps to address the problem of Juang in Nagada village. Primitive Tribal Groups are neglected and surviving in sub-human condition across the state. The State Govt. must go for complete assessment of the situation and status of implementation of all development work in all tribal districts. This is the opportunity for the state to enhance its administrative capacity to enforce implementation of its plan and programme meant for tribals across the state.
14. T.S.R.D. is running Ahara centre to provide only rice and dal to the children once in a day. This is again half-hazard intervention. Such type of intervention will no way help the tribals. The State Govt. should open free meal Ahara centre Rice, dalma and curry mixed with vegetables for twice in a day atleast for three months. Similar kind of Ahara yojana can be opened in other tribal regions where food insecurity is highly acute. Ahara yojana with Rs. 5/- Rice and Dalma in urban areas should be stopped immediately and it should be diverted to extreme tribal pockets where poverty, hunger and malnutrition is very high.