But the leaders of
Congress party like see a complete different scene on the ground while
visiting the district. The Working President of Orissa PCC Lalatendu
Bidyadhar Mahapatra said in a press conference that, ‘at least 96 deaths
have occurred in the district as a result of diarrhea only. The
government is not only hiding the fact but betraying people by not
admitting its failure in protecting the tribals of kashipur and other
blocks of rayagada from diarrhea and cholera’.
Much late in realizing
the gravity of the situation, the Health Minister and Health Secretary
of the state made a visit to the district on 14 and 15 September.
However, to him the situation is still not grave and the minister
reposes his faith on the administration and the remedial measures.
Replying to a question is the government and health ministry of Orissa
failed to protect the lives of tribals of rayagada, Health Minister
Prasanna Kumar Acharya said that, ‘Now is the time to check the problem.
We can analyze the success and failure later. Now our primary concern is
to do the best to remove the lacunae in the system and check it from
spreading to more villages’.
However, Rayagada is
almost every year visited by Diarrhea at the advent of rainy season. The
people of poorest blocks like Kashipur are always promised for roads and
drinking water. But with the passing of rainy season the promises fade
away. 3 years back in 2007, when the district was visited by cholera and
at least 200 people died of the epidemic, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
promised pure drinking water and roads to all villages of Kashipur
Block. The promises are yet to be fulfilled.
About 25 years back,
former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi visited
Kashipur being moved by the news of starvation deaths due to hunger and
malnutrition. Then the high profiled couple was carried with a fan-fair
by the poor tribals of the block with the hope that the issues and
problems of the district would vanish with the return f the Prime
Rajiv and Sonia returned
from kashipur leaving a few promises for the poor tribals which are yet
to be fulfilled. However, when people are dying of diseases and are
living with acute misery, Congress leaders in the state are busy making
politics out of it and blaming the government led by Naveen Patnaik.
Working President Lalatendu condemns the government saying that, ‘3
years back the Chief Minister promised water, road and proper PDS to
support the poor families of Kashipur. None of the promises are
fulfilled yet. RWSS has been asked to repair the tubewells only after
the outbreak of cholera. There is no road to most villages of Kashipur.
And, BPL families get rice once in two months. Many families are unable
to bring the rice as they have to walk down 15 KMs to get it. In the
rainy season, most roads become un-utilisable and villages remain
leaders don’t dare to make a question to Madam Sonia Gandhi on the
promises she made to the people of Kashipur and why she has not yet
visited the place to see if her promises are realized?
On the other hand, the
Health Minister and the secretary show their concern by a two days visit
and a false declaration that things are in control when every day new
villages are being included in the list of affected and deaths have
almost become a regular affair.
It’s really shocking to
come across the fact that even today in India misery of people during an
epidemic is seen from a political perspective. Putting aside the plight
of people there has been a political blame game started in Orissa where
the opposition parties point fingers at the government and the health
minister compares the number of deaths with other states or countries
with a greater satisfaction as it is yet to become the highest in the
world. Be it swine flu or diarrhea in Rayagada, the health Minister of
Orissa always come up with the usual question – ‘America is the most
developed country, don’t people die there of diseases like this?’. Many
see such an attitude of the Health Minister of Orissa as the reason
behind spread of the disease.
offence and defence game by almost all political parties and leaders
make no sense to the poor people of Kashipur, Bisamkatak and Rayagada
blocks as they are falling into the fangs of Diarrhea and cholera almost
every day and there is hardly any hope or relief to them who still drink
water from open sources like streams and canals, live in an unhealthy
atmosphere. And the realities are, no all weather rods are made for them
and they have to walk for kilometers to reach at the market, hospital or
the PDS distribution centre.