Murbad tribal hamlet cut off, left without food

Updated: Jul 30, 2020, 10:58 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Tribals forced to carry pregnant women to hospital physically

A tribal hamlet surrounded by water on three sides and a forest with snakes and wild animals on the fourth, has been cut off from the rest of the population in Manivali village for the past five decades. The lockdown and the monsoon have made their lives ever worse, with tribals claiming they have not received any help in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talyanchi Vadi, a hamlet with 60 houses and 200 people, is located 8 km from Murbad tehsil and villagers having to walk several kilometres, while carrying their sick, for medical care, or to charge their phones in a nearby village as they get electricity for only about two hours twice a week. Both the nearest village and the closest hospital is about 3 km away.

Tribals say there is only one way out of the hamlet, and i.e. the jungle which is full of snakes and wild animals. Even during the COVDI-19 lockdown, they were left to fend for themselves, with no help from the authorities.

'Not aware of their issues'

Murbad tehsildar Amol Kadam said, "I am not aware of the problems being faced by the people of Talyanchi Vadi. I will have to make enquiries, as no one has brought this matter to my notice."

Majority of the tribals don't have education, and those who studied had to walk at least 3 km to go to their schools. They could only study till Std XII and are now jobless. Their only source of income is fishing in the waters of Barvi dam. They sell their catch of barely 1-2 kg in nearby villages, and earn merely R80 per kg, said Anant Zugare, 32, from Talyanchi Vadi.

Barvi dam water is seen behind Talyanchi Vadi, a tribal hamlet
Barvi dam water is seen behind Talyanchi Vadi, a tribal hamlet

Anant added, "My wife Chandrakala was pregnant and we had to carry her in a stretcher made of a bed sheet and a bamboo pole, covering a distance of nearly 3 km on foot. After that, we needed to walk another 5 km to reach the rural hospital in Murbad. But as she was in labour pain, we admitted her to a private hospital there. We had to spend around R30,000 on the delivery as the doctor went for caesarean, on July 17. I had to borrow the money. In the rural hospital, the delivery would have been free."

'The only path is risky'

"We have been carrying her to the private hospital for further medical check-ups too. We have no ambulance service or any other mode of transport, as there are no roads to the hamlet and no one wants to take the risk of passing through the jungle," he said.

Barvi dam Barvi dam which is close to the hamlet Talyanchi Vadi

"We are worried about our future, as Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) recently increased the height of the Barvi dam for the fourth consecutive time. Now, water from the dam flows in three directions of our hamlet at a distance of less than 20 meter," said Padmakar, another tribal from the hamlet. '

Situation the same since '72

The villagers shifted to Talyanchi Vadi when the Barvi dam construction in 1972 displaced nearly 2,000 people from seven villages and almost submerged thousands of acres of forest.

Padmakar added, "After the 1972 incident, our parents shifted to a higher area, where Talyanchi Vadi is located, while other affected villagers were either rehabilitated or they moved to other nearby areas. However, for the MIDC, the tribals of Talyanchi Vadi don't exist. Even during the pandemic, they provided some support to other project affected villagers, but no help ever reached us. Also, the government supply of 5 kg of food grains per person, given in ration shops, has not come this month, leaving us with limited food supply."

Talyanchi VadiTalyanchi Vadi, a tribal hamlet, has around 60 houses

He added, "Most of us are the second generation people. Only four elders, who witnessed the 1972 displacement, are alive."

Also Read: Cyclone Nisarga: Raigad villagers don't have enough drinking water; travel 30 km to get phones charged

Fight for right in Bombay HC

A joint writ petition was recently filed in Bombay High Court against the MIDC for rehabilitation by Kanha Khadali, 46, a tribal from nearby Kolewadhakal village, and Rajaram Balu Zugare of Talyanchi Vadi. They moved the HC with the help of activist Indavi Tulpule after their multiple pleas to the MIDC, Murbad tehsildar and the Thane collector fell into deaf ears. The matter is now slated before the Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and will be heard on July 31.
Tulpule, member of Shramik Mukti Sangathana, who is helping the petitioners with legal aid via Human Rights Law Network, Mumbai, said, "MIDC has systematically ignored the tribals in Talyanchi Vadi and their appeals for rehabilitation package, and unfortunately, the hamlet continues to suffer even in the 21st century, with no basic facilities."

'No record of this hamlet'

Jaywant Borse, Executive Engineer, Barvi Dam, said, "As per MIDC record, among the petitioners only Kolewadhakal village is Project Affected Parties (PAP) and we have no record of Talyanchi Vadi, as PAP and therefore, cannot comment about their rehabilitation or resolve any issue that people of Talyanchi Vadi is facing today."

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