Livelihood of ‘rehabilitated’ Saharias at stake in Shivpuri

  • M Poornima, Hindustan Times, Bhopal/Shivpuri
  • Updated: Jun 03, 2015 18:56 IST

Naya Ballarpur is a village of 105 families of the primitive Saharia tribe, a tribe the government wants to protect and perpetuate.

Ironically, the result of the government’s efforts is exactly the opposite.

There are around 60 widows in the 105 families living in this village under Budi Barot Panchayat of Shivpuri district.

This is the aftermath of their ‘rehabilitation’ to this village with a promise of 10 bigha (4 acre) to all 100 families.

They were shifted there in 2000 from Ballarpur, an area now reserved under Madhav National Park.

On arriving at their newly allotted location, only 61 of the 100 families were provided land, while the remaining 39 families were asked to ‘adjust’ with others.

The relocation, however, backfired as the allotted land lacked fertility, was unfit for agriculture and completely non-arable.

To make matters worse, the village also suffers from acute shortage of water.

For livelihood, most residents were forced to take up jobs in stone mines.

This became the leading cause for a large number of workers contracting diseases like tuberculosis (TB), asthma and other respiratory disorders.

Out of the 39 families that were not provided land, the heads of 11 families succumbed to various respiratory diseases.

“We had to suffer a lot because of relocation. In the name of agricultural land, we were provided with non-arable land. At least we were able to get forest products like fruits and wood earlier, but now we are unable to manage one-time meal,” said Kunjawati Adivasi of the village.

Death and decay has gripped the entire village and more than 60 villagers have died due to TB or other respiratory disorders.

Taking cognizance of the deteriorating situation in the village, the state government decided to close the stone mines in the district.

Losing their only source of income, the Saharias living there were now forced to travel several kilometers in search of work.

“We are compelled to work at stone mines as we don’t have any other source of income. Earlier, I used to work at a mine 10 km away from the village but now I have to go to Mohna town, around 70 km away from the village,” said 30-year-old Pappu Adivasi.

Activist Manoj Bhadoriya said the villagers were relocated with a promise of all essential facilities, but they have suffered a lot in last 10 years.

Despite submitting several memorandums to the district administration, no concrete steps have been taken, he said.

When contacted, Shivpuri collector Rajiv Dubey said he was not aware of the issues plaguing Naya Ballarpur village.

However, he said a team would be sent to the village to investigate the situation.

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