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No end in sight to miseries of Wanarmare tribe

NIRGOSH GAUDE | NT

PONDA: Wanarmare tribals in the Shiroda constituency continue to live in a pathetic condition in the hilly area of Nirankal with no proper shelter, no electricity and no toilets, forcing them to defecate in the open.

The only consolation is the ample amount of water and ration facility provided by government agencies as their basic needs. However, the tribals still strive hard for their other requirements.

It has been almost two and half years since the Wanarmare tribe tragedy occurred wherein some locals had tried to evict them from the village by burning their huts. Following this, the Human Rights Commission of the state government had intervened in the matter and efforts were made to provide them with the basic needs. Huts destroyed by the miscreants were repaired, water tank facility was made available to them and even electrical lines were made available in their area with streetlight facility.

Besides, some people across the state including social workers and politicians extended help to them by paying a visit to the remote area. They were also provided voting rights with the intervention of the government and were also granted ration at subsidised rates.

However, after that, no attention was paid to them and their condition has not improved satisfactorily. They still struggle for a lot of their basic needs. Proper shelter has been their main concern since the beginning and that issue persists. Their huts made of coconut palms and covered with tarpaulin are now in need of repairs.

“During the last rains, most of our huts were leaking, while some had lost roof due to strong winds and we were forced to take shelter under each other’s huts,” said Gopal Powar, tribe leader, while speaking to this daily.

Secondly, electricity has been another major concern for the Wanarmare tribals, who are still dependant on the streetlights at night. They have a few solar lights, which were donated to them, but most of them are out of order. According to the tribe leader, they have knocked the doors of many for proper shelter facility and also for electricity connections. But they have not received any help.

“We had asked for at least one common electricity connection for all families, but the local panchayat has refused it on the pretext of land issue,” Powar said. “With support of the social workers and government agencies, our children are now enrolled in schools, but they are forced to study under the streetlights. While a few members of our community own mobile phones, they, however, are forced to pay around Rs 20 to charge the phones in shops, as we don’t have electricity,” complained the tribe leader. There are around 15 families of Wanarmare in Nirankal area with a population of over 100 people and 40 members have voting rights. They have settled in the comunidade area of the village and the matter is sub judice. Considering this, they are unable to obtain no-objection certificates (NOCs) for any development in the area, especially for electricity and construction. The local panchayat has recently considered their request for toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. However, the tribals are yet to get the benefit of it, said locals from Nirankal.

According to one of the social workers working closely with the Wanarmare tribe, the tribals have become dependant on the external help provided to them during crisis and are hoping for such help again and again. In the recent past, their economic condition has improved with employment sources. But they have not changed their living habits. They lived like wanderers in the past and now too they are not willing to give up their habits due to which there condition has been the same, said the social worker.

Presently, most of the Wanarmare tribe members are working as labourers in agricultural farms and it is their main source of income. As there is scarcity of agricultural labourers, farmers hire these tribals for their work.

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