July 25th, 2017
An Odia tribal family with an infant was forced to live in a toilet built under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to battle the monsoon sea, reported Hindustan Times.
In the absence of a pukka house, Daktar Naik and his family from Ichinda village of Keonjhar district, has been living in the toilet built by state-run Odisha Mining Corporation.
The family earlier lived under tattered polythenes or took shelter in abandoned houses. It was in the rainy season that they were forced to live in a toilet. Speaking to a local daily, Naik said his wife cooks outside and he uses the closeby forest for defecation.
There are 40 tribal families who belong to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category but they haven’t been given houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Even the District Mineral Foundation formed under Mines and Minerals Amendment Act, 2015 for the development of inhabitants from the tribal areas have not been able to improve their condition. States that are rich in mineral like that of Odisha annually receive Rs 800 crore as mandatory contribution from mining companies.
The villagers are forced to drink polluted water and breathe polluted air because of mining operations. Keonjhar district came into focus over unbridled theft of iron ore and manganese by existing leaseholders in the context of violation of several mining laws in 2009. Justice MB Shah Commission wrote, “It is forgotten that the mining operations are carried out in the areas belonging to the tribal and tribal people are displaced or stay in pathetic and miserable conditions in the same areas. The villagers are forced to breathe polluted air and drink polluted water. In the nearby villages where mining operations are carried out, stream and groundwater is polluted. There is hardly any facility of drinking water. We have seen some women fetching water from dirty nullahs. It is apparent that those persons who are looting minerals which is a limited national wealth, are not prepared to share a fraction of their income for the development of the area from where minerals are extracted.”
The Commission had also recommended a CBI probe into the mining scam but neither the State nor the Centre has shown any interest in following it up.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community severely condemns the ordeal that these tribal people are being compelled to go through. They are being looted and are also devoid of the basic human rights of clean water and amicable living conditions. If they had access to homes, Daktar Naik would no longer have to live in a toilet. We urge the concerned authorities to look into the matter and ensure that no family has to go through the same.