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Exclusive: Journalist Sanjay Mehta’s Report On Plight of The Tribes in Jharkhand

Journalist Sanjay Mehta, who went and stayed in Saranda village in Jharkhand, witnessed the plight and the worsened living conditions of the tribes people in the area

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Sanjay Mehta
Sanjay Mehta, a journalist from Jharkhand, with children from Saranda region. Sanjay Mehta
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  • Sanjay Mehta is a journalist and a student of law hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand
  • The journalist went and stayed with the tribes people of Saranda, thereby witnessing their living conditions
  • Sanjay Mehta’s report reveals the plight of tribes have been completely neglected by the system and the government leading to their shambolic living conditions

July 06, 2017:

Sanjay Mehta, a student of law at Vinoba Bhave University, is also a journalist hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. On 21st June, Mehta decided to visit Saranda forest region to get a closer glimpse of the various tribes that inhabit the place. This was Sanjay Mehta’s own initiative as he considers himself personally bonded with the clan.

Having visited many villages in the region and living among these tribes, Mehta developed a deeper understanding of the poor living conditions of these people who are ignored by both, the system as well as the government.

Sanjay Mehta
A tribe woman with her child. Sanjay Mehta

The Saranda forest, which lies in the West Singhbhum district, is approximately 200Kms away from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Mehta reports that the living condition of the people is inhumane. The tribal clan is desperate for a better life. He continues that the offsprings of these people are victims of malnutrition and their present condition is fretting.

The pregnant women have frightful conditions to encounter every day throughout their pregnancy. Additionally, there are problems with the drinking water due to its high iron ore content. Mehta has discovered these problems since his visit to the region where the entire atmosphere is tragical and disappointing. Ignored by the authorities, it is as if these people are left to work things out on their own. Such situations suffered by the entire ethnic group is ridiculously disturbing.

Also Read: Exclusive: Why Gorkhaland for Gorkhas?

Villages like Meghahatuburu, Kotgarh, Gua, Tatiba, Lokasi, among many others, are struggling for basic necessities of life. The doctors in the hospitals are under-staffed, schools lack students who suffer from malnutrition while the entire community have only the nature for survival (which isn’t enough in today’s world). Having failed completely, the questions should be aimed towards the Govt.

Sanjay Mehta
The children of families in Saranda, Jharkhand suffer from malnutrition and malaria. Sanjay Mehta

Sanjay Mehta also alleges that the Feb 2017 report prepared by UNICEF and the Central Govt has falsely estimated that only 20% of the kids in the Saranda region suffer from malnutrition. Having lived there for 15 days now, the journalist estimates a much higher statistic than 20%. He reports that almost every kid is under-nutrition and often even minor diseases are life threatening. These deaths go unnoticed and often ignored.

The Govt. facilities are non-existent. The water problem combined with extreme unemployment implies just how badly the Govt has been performing. Even basic electricity is a rare thing in some villages. In some areas, the roads are constructed badly, and in others, you can only see crooked paths.

The region is a mining paradise making it complicated for development policies to be implemented here. Most of the land is leased out to SAIL, a public sector company, and thus the amount of money received from the centre for development is often sent back. SAIL has its own CSR initiative and therefore, do not provide an approval certificate. Although the officers have been urged time and again to look into the matter, there still has been no progress.

In his report, Sanjay Mehta has also documented the experiences of the villagers. Many people also told that the poor quality of water has infected their feet and nails. The women of Noamundi grieved that they fry insects as their meal. It is, in fact, an essential nutrition in their diet at this time of the season.

Sanjay Mehta
The drinking water has a high content of Iron ores making it a health issue. Sanjay Mehta

One villager has expressed his frustration aimed at the government. He said that the kids of the village are dying of malnutrition and malaria. The government is paying no attention to it.

Another man from a village called Kiriburu has declared the government’s policies as a complete failure. The people of the village have not reaped any benefits that the government had promised.

Juda Bodra, hailing from the Gua village, stated “I am unemployed and have no benefits from the state. This is very difficult for us”

Sanjay Mehta
Badapasia women selling insects which are an essential part of the daily meal of this tribe. Sanjay Mehta

Badapasia village resident Ghanshyam Bobonge said that the conditions for tribe’s people are miserable. “We are living the lives’ of the lowest class. No officials come and address our griefs”

When the journalist highlighted this issue in a Facebook post, it was reported and henceforth removed. The Journalist also concludes that gradually the villagers are getting more and more angry towards the establishment, which is unhealthy for any political system. Sanjay Mehta can be followed on Twitter @JournalistMehta

By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Madhya Pradesh Waives off $5.3Bn in Farm Debt

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The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year. (VOA)