Bolangir(Orissa), May 19: Faced by poverty and droughts, Orissa's Bolangir district has always been challenged by problems like starvation deaths or child trafficking. But the latest problem is caused due to migration of thousands of people to neighbouring States.
While migrating in search of work, most people leave behind a huge number of old and disabled persons in hapless conditions and to fend for themselves.
Thousands of local residents from the interior areas of Bolangir district migrate to neighbouring States like West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh to work in brick kilns.
Their problem is not having enough employment opportunities at their native places.
The migration leaves behind a deserted look in almost every other village. They migrate during October and November. And, normally, do not return home till the monsoon sets in around June.
One of such deserted villages is Muribahal Village, where nearly every winter marks a huge migration of youngsters and adults in search of work.
At this village, out of the 175 families around 150 families have migrated to places like Hyderabad and Warangal in Andhra Pradesh to work in brick kilns.
The migrating individuals have to leave behind their aged parents and even the physically or mentally disabled of their families.
Seventy six-year-old Dagar Suna is one such unfortunate parent. He had two sons; one of them died and the other migrated. The son left his helpless parents to take care of themselves on their own and may not be able to return before June.
"I am facing a lot of problem here. There is no food, no clothes and I have nothing with me. I had two sons one died and the other migrated to Hyderabad in search of job," said Dagar Suna, the aggrieved father.
Seventy-year-old Pata Nihal is too old to take care of her disabled son. The elder son has left them behind in search of job. There are times when neighbours extend help in extreme conditions, but they too have their limitations.
"One of my sons had migrated to Andhra Pradesh and the other is disabled. So I am left with the disabled son. I am old and I have no work, it is difficult for me to take care of my disabled son but what to do. Our neighbours do help me sometime," said Pata Nihal, the aged mother.
This is the condition of almost every household in each and every village of Bolangir district. The landless labourers are struck in the vicious cycle of poverty, debt and migration.
Marginal farmers and the landless agricultural labourers in Bolangri district are facing with problems like low yields and lack of alternative employment opportunities within their village. Often they are at the mercy of the non-institutional moneylenders.
Meanwhile, the government contends that it is providing jobs to the people under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The villagers, who are mostly illiterate, are required to provide documents.
"The problems relating to food, shelter, medicinal, water and education for kids in these villages are a matter of concern. But the villages need to file a complaint in writing. Then only we can provide the facilities and ask the government to take necessary steps," said Pradipta Naik, State Minister for Labour and Employment.
"It needs massive awareness and some of our officers when they visit places like Kalahandi, Malangir or Bharampur, they get to know the situation. Besides this the Government maintains a list of people migrating and the area which is most affected will be our preferred place to start the awareness campaign," he added.
But he says: "Such people, who migrated without any information, are not in the list we have."
As per a survey carried out by a non-government organisation about 150,000 persons have migrated from Bolangir District to elsewhere in the past one year.
1,83,000 persons are supposed to avail the NREGS benefits for which the Government issued job cards but this has helped only 33,274 families.
Out of the outlay of rupees 27 crores (270 million rupees), only 25.21 crores (252.1 million rupees) was released in the year 2007-2008. And out of the scheduled 1,474 projects in the entire district, only 238 could be executed.