Rashmi Rekha Das

Be it technology, agriculture, science or education, India’s achievements post-independence in every field deserve applause. However, it won’t be wrong to say that social freedom still eludes us. Else, a six-member family in Odisha cannot spend 15 years of their lifespan in a jungle.

According to sources, a Nuapada-based family has been living in a thatched house for one and a half decade all alone in a dense jungle. Though the mud-house is lying in a state of dilapidation, Phaguna Majhi with his two wives and three children continues to reside there.

They have a ration card but only names of two family members are there in the card. As a result, Phaguna collects rice weighing 10 kg every month which is not enough for a six-member family. 

Moreover, they trek to a neighbouring village to fetch water in the absence of a water body in the jungle. Instead of going to school, Phaguna’s children are grazing goats and cows.

Sources said, Phaguna used to reside in his village Khaira under Boden block in Nuapada district. As his house got damaged, his relatives took possession of his land and threw him out of the house. Since then, he has been spending his life with his family in the jungle named Mundibaheli. 

Meanwhile, three General Elections were held in between and politicians made false promises like inclusion of family members’ names in the ration card and giving a house under the government scheme to Phaguna.  However, he is yet to get a house and avail other government benefits.

Phaguna said, “Two of my family members are getting rice. My repeated requests for a house yielded no results. So, I have stopped raising such issues before the government.”

His wife Bhanumati said, “We are living in a very pathetic situation in a jungle. But we are helpless.”

Dayananda Majhi, a villager, said, “The state government is helping everyone. Phaguna is also human being, not an animal. He should be given sufficient rice under the government scheme.”

Tehsildar Rajesh Meher said, “As per the government scheme, he will be provided all sorts of aid. The administration will also provide him a polythene sheet.”