Bhadrak: Over 17 years have passed since leprosy patients were rehabilitated at a colony, located 5 km from Bhadrak town, but they are still deprived of basic facilities like road connectivity, safe drinking water and electricity. The residents allege they have to face a lot of difficulties in the absence of basic facilities with the administration remaining insensitive to their woes. “Even after waiting for a long time, the administration did nothing for a road. We together built a road for our community. The colony is in a very unhygienic and unlivable condition,” the residents lamented.
Government benefits like pension and land provision have eluded them, they rued, adding that they have no option but to lead a miserable life. According to reports, over 200 people are residing in the leprosy colony while 150 of them are afflicted with leprosy. In 2000, the district administration relocated them from a colony in the town to the outskirts. During shifting, the residents say the administration had made a number of assurances, which were never to be fulfilled. The main problem is that they have not been provided land pattas of their settlement, due to which they are unable to avail various government benefits. Their families have confined themselves to thatched humble shanties, which leak during the rainy season. Their problem becomes all the more difficult when the entire colony remains marooned by rainwater. Only one tube well is there to cater to their water needs, but that too is in an unhygienic condition.
“As land pattas for the colony have not been provided to us, our children are unable to get residential and caste certificates. Meritorious students are deprived of getting scholarships. Students eligible to get free bi-cycles are unable to avail them. Many of us are differently-abled, but only seven persons have been provided dibyang pension,” said Bhanjarani Sahu, a resident. They added that they had to build a road to the colony by offering labour for six months. Rotary Club, however, set up a primary school in 2010-11, but over 50 students of five classes are accommodated in a single room, they added. Surabhi Mohant, a resident, said, “All our kids are huddled into a single room in the school, causing immense difficulties for the kids.”
“In the absence of electricity, our kids find it difficult to study under oil lamps. Though we had drawn the attention of the collector, local MLA and sarpanch to our problems, it has been in vain,” they added. Student Alekh Mohanty said, “In the absence of electricity, we face a lot of problems as we cannot study after dark.” Deputy collector Rajendra Kumar Panda, said, “As the land of the colony is classified under cremation ground category, land pattas have not been provided to the residents. Still, I will try to sort out all their problems by getting their problems probed by a special officer.”