When Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Thulasi Maddineni arrived at Banjarumale, one of the remotest tribal hamlets in Belthangady taluk (bordering Chikmagalur district), about 93 kms from Mangalore, on Tuesday, the tribals were taken by surprise as the last CEO to visit the tiny tribal hamlet was 12 years ago, when the then CEO Gonal Bheemappa accompanied the then Social Welfare Minister Kagodu Thimmappa to inaugurate the 8 KW mini hydro electric project on May 10, 2002.
In fact, former deputy commissioner S K Das still holds the record for visiting the village in 1983 and no DC has ever visited the village for the last 30 years!
The occasion was a medical health camp organised by Indian Red Cross Society (DK unit) in association with the district administration and Jana Shikshana Trust.
Woes pour in
As the ZP CEO asked the villagers to tell her the problems, the villagers started to pour out their woes.
Explaining the problems of the hamlet, Neriya GP Member Krishna said that their biggest demand is to make the existing 9-km mud-road motorable. “The only mode of transport is a jeep with 4-whleel drive and the drivers charge Rs 1,500 to cover 9 kms, which takes one hour,” he said and added that their second biggest demand is to take steps to increase the capacity of mini-hydro power project, so that more houses can avail power.
“The capacity of the 8 KW mini-hydro power project has been reduced to 3.5 KW over the years,” he said and requested the CEO to take steps to increase the capaity.
Similarly, A B Annappa, another villager appealed the CEO to construct a mini-bridge across the rivulet, for which foundation was laid by the then MLA Prabhakar Bangera in 2002.
The villagers’ other demands included tailoring training for women, solar lamps for houses, setting up of an anganwadi, help for setting up poultry, dairy farming and providing BPL cards. After patiently listening to the tribals’ woes, CEO Thulasi Maddineni promised to take steps to make the road motorable, with the help of Integrated Tribal Development Project. She also promised to supply food (for kids) meant for anganwadi kids, though it may not be possible to start an anganwadi immediately. She also promised to take steps to make ASHA worker visit the village and extend facilities for those who wish to learn tailoring.
TV Vs toilet
Taking a dig at the villagers for lack of toilets, she told the villagers to compulsorily construct toilets. “If you can purchase television set, why not construct a toilet?” she said and explained the need to have a toilet for their own benefits and hygiene.
When CEO asked ZP President Koragappa Naik to address the gathering, he said that he would address the gathering only after he succeeds in addressing their problems. “I have tried my best to help the villagers, but could not succeed,” he said and added that he would speak when the tribals would get the benefits from the government.
Earlier, MGNREGS Ombudsman Sheena Shetty and Krishna Moolya appealed the tribals to send dropout students back to school and also explained the benefits of MGNREGS. The villagers also enthralled the doctors and guests by dancing and singing folk songs (Sobane).
Nearest PHC 30 kms away
The nearest Primary Health Centre (PHC) to Banjarumale is at Neriya, which is 30 kms away.
But, when three teams comprising 8 doctors visited the village, it was a mega bonus for the villagers, and villagers made the best use of the available opportunity to check their health problems. Surprisingly, not many villagers had any serious problems, except for a few, for whom the Red Cross has assured to follow up their case.
“If we want to see a doctor, we will have to go all the way to Ujire or Belthangady, which is about 40 kms away, and then wait in a long queue. On the other hand, the camp was boon for us wherein we could meet many doctors at our village itself,” said 58-year-old Shekar.
“But for this camp, I would not have gone to see any doctor,” said more than 80-year-old Lakshmi, who got her health check up done at the camp. In fact, that was the common answer of many aged persons.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, District Ayush Officer Dr Sadashivananda said that most of the villagers are healthy except for the fact that their blood pressure is slightly higher than the normal, which is surprising. Physician Dr Nagendra too was of the same opinion. A total of 67 persons availed the benefits of free health camp.
The three teams comprised Dr Sadashivananda (District Ayush Officer), Dr Ashfak Hussein (Unani specialist), Dr Vignesh Shenoy (ophthalmologist), Dr Nagendra, Dr Naveen and Dr Amruthraj (physicians).
IRCS District Chairperson Prabhakar Sriyan, Neriya GP President Kusumavathi, Vice President Vasanthi, former GP Presidents P K Rajan and Ashraf among others were present.