The kin of the dead had to carry the body on a cart due to lack of transport facilities in Jajpur district
Rahul Dass | September 20, 2016
Even before the searing image of Dana Majhi carrying the body of his wife could fade, another distraught family in Odisha’s Jajpur was forced to carry a woman’s body on a cart. The two back-to-back incidents highlight the fact that government schemes are failing to provide succor to the poor and the marginalised.
After Dana Majhi’s plight became public, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik launched a new scheme ‘Mahaprayan’ under which family members will be provided vehicles to carry bodies of those who die in hospitals to their homes free of cost. The scheme will be available at all district headquarters hospitals.
Apparently, the scheme doesn’t seem to have had an impact, as is clear from the distress of the family in Jajpur which had to carry the dead woman on a cart. It is not the only government scheme which has fallen flat.
The people living in backward areas continue to face a host of challenges and their lives do not seem to have improved despite the government’s various schemes aimed at ameliorating their suffering.
A special area development programme called Long Term Action Plan and later Revised Long Term Action Plan has been implemented in eight districts of Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region with an expenditure of Rs 3,000-odd crore of central fund. The area has turned green and a road network has been built with funds from Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
But, the development benefits stop there. The Indian Express reported that Kalahandi has not developed much between 1985 and 2016 as it should have been. In Thuamul Rampur block, from where Majhi travelled, in the last one month, at least 21 people including four children died from pneumonia, chronic illness and cerebral malaria.
It is also not easy to reach Majhi’s village, and the going is particularly tough during the monsoons.
Sarva Shiksha Yojana has helped reduce the school dropout but the literacy rate is still 60 percent while the state average is 73 percent. Despite programmes like Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram for newborn and lactating mothers and Integrated Child Development Scheme, the infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate in Kalahandi and other KBK districts are much higher than the national average.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is in operation, but the district human development report of Kalahandi prepared by UNDP in 2012 showed there was little by way of livelihood for the people of Kalahandi and other KBK districts.
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