A peek into ‘Sulia’ peeth where development has no footprints

Bolangir: Villages of Khairaguda and Kumuria in tribal dominated Bolangir may not have a distinctive topological presence but the local ‘Sulia Jatra’ festival which is infamous for huge animal sacrifice ritual has certainly grabbed everyone’s attention.

As footprints of development continues to stay far away from the villages, questions have been raised as to why the locals are unwilling to relinquish the bloodbath despite rising awareness

A look into the Kumuria and Khairaguda villages where the Sulia Jatra is celebrated shows utter backwardness in all aspects.

There is only a single primary school to cater to the children in Kumuria village. While students are forced to take their classes inside a dilapidated building, there are only two teachers for all the five classes in the school.

While the village has mostly mud thatched houses, several welfare schemes like MGNREGS is yet to reach the area.

Similarly, the village has only two tube wells to depend on. At times of health emergency, people are forced to depend on the nearest hospital which is 25 kilometre away.

Things are quite similar in Khairaguda, where development seems like a distant dream.

The village has a school with classes from 1st to 8th standard but only four teachers for all the students. The school has only one building with classes from 1  to 5 running in rooms whereas students of higher classes are taught on the verandah.

Quite a few have ration cards while there is no provision of any healthcare services in the village. With no source of employment, people of the area are forced to migrate in search of livelihood.

Every year during Sulia Jatra, scores of wildlife conservationists, administrative officials, political leaders make beeline to the villages urging the locals to stop the bloodbath rituals. They also show assurances of development but as soon as the rituals are over, promises become a thing of past.

“We had stopped the animal sacrifice from 2006 to 2010 but the locals adopted the rituals once again after that. The administration has failed to take any developmental measures despite promises,” said a local Raju Bag.

Tribal leaders say that under-development is the main reason why locals have been unwilling to restrain from the sacrificial rituals.

“If the government funds are well spent for the welfare of the tribal people, it will create more awareness and help them get into the mainstream. Only through that way the animal sacrifice rituals can be slowly minimised,” said Satyanarayan Bhoi, advisor of Zilla Adivasi Sangha.

However, District Collector said that he would look into the problems of the villages after reviewing the conditions.