Unemployment plagues the lives of tribals

Prajakta Joshi
Thursday, 28 February 2019

The survey was conducted at  Chongaon, Aghanwadi, Fanaswadi, Moryachapada, Karand and Vakdyachi Wadi, Savroli Pada and Dhamanwadi. Around 80 young volunteers worked with the 
core team.

PUNE: Unemployment and low wages besides malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty continue to be the major problems among the tribal population near Badlapur. Apparently, the eight hamlets with a population of approximately 2,500 enjoy the proximity with Mumbai which is just a stone throw away from here.

Despite being at an hour’s distance from Mumbai, unemployment and low wages are major issues among the tribal population of eight tribal hamlets near Badlapur, said Sharvari Pawar from Jagori Foundation Charitable Trust which recently conducted a baseline survey of these hamlets.

Talking about the most common problems faced by the villagers, who majorly belong to the Katkari and Thakar tribes, Pawar said that unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty continue to be the major problems of the tribal population here.

“At least 90 per cent of the residents of these eight hamlets are employed as daily wagers. Majority of them are unskilled workers, though there a few who possess some skills. They do not earn more than Rs 350 to 400 per day. While very few works at the factories in Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in Badlapur, most of them work as seasonal labours, or at the brick kilns in the surrounding areas,” she added.

The survey was conducted on February 23 and 24, at the hamlets of Chongaon, Aghanwadi, Fanaswadi, Moryachapada, Karand and Vakdyachi Wadi, Savroli Pada and Dhamanwadi. Around 80 young volunteers worked with the core team of Jagori, to conduct a survey at 331 households in these villages.

“Each tribal hamlet had a different story to tell. Baseline survey provided an effective medium for the volunteers to interact with the villagers and understand their issues, concerns and suggestions for village development. The volunteers shared their experiences, observation and common issues existing within these tribal villages during the feedback session,” Pawar said.

HEALTH WOES
With illiteracy and lack of awareness, these tribals remain to be unbeknown of the government schemes that might benefit them. The volunteers found that the areas also lacked primary health centre or sub-centres.

“The nearest hospital here is either in Badlapur, which is around eight to 10 kilometres away or Vangani, which is even farther. Anganwadi workers are quite active in the area, but there is almost no awareness about Aasha workers,” Pawar mentioned.

She further said, “We also found a case of severe malnutrition, where the child’s stomach was swollen. Amongst the other children, we have detected symptoms of malnutrition. The issue of abandoned elders is also quite common, as we found many who were living alone in their deserted homes.”

One of the activists working in the area also pointed out to the surveyors that cataract cases are very common amongst the elderly in the area. But most of the times, they go unnoticed and untreated as the percentage of these people going to doctors is very low. The population is still riddled with superstitions.

With illiteracy at its peak, despite the presence of primary schools in almost all the villages, there is a high rate of dropouts, resulting out of poverty. With no representation and lack of awareness, these tribals do not have any voice even in their Gram Sabhas.

“It was a wonderful experience for the team to connect with the villagers as well as the young volunteers. Further, the baseline data will be used as a guiding tool for the organisation to define future course of the intervention,” Pawar said.

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