Nagada, Odisha: A Mineral Rich Tribal Village, But No Food For The Kids

Somewhere between battling for recognition and growth as a developing and an emerging nation, India still lives under the darkness of widespread poverty, hunger, cultural and social riots. It holds the “World’s highest demographics of children suffering from malnutrition, where nearly 72% of infants have anemia and 44 % of children who are under the age of 5, are underweight”. Campaigns for a clean India, an educated India and women-friendly atmospheres are soaring high, but we tend to forget the fact that each day millions of little souls sleep with empty or half-stomachs. One such state is Odisha that has accounted for about 11 lakh children living with malnutrition, last year. Till now, it continues to be among the top five states in the country, where the scourge of malnutrition among the children is still haunting, despite being one of the prime locations to carry out the industrial activities by serving to be one of the most mineral-rich land in the country.


Between March and June this year, at least 12 children died in Nagada village, located in the forests of Odisha's Jajpur district. The Prime reason for their deaths was malnutrition, as local medical authorities and community had told.

The village population is solely of the Juang scheduled tribe, one of India's ancient tribes, been declared as 'particularly vulnerable' by the government. “For the past two months, a chicken pox epidemic has been raging in the village, with at least 35 kids displaying the typical blister-like rashes”. G Naresh, an activist of Aspire, an NGO told TOI that after they informed them, the local authorities made a few trips to distribute medicine. On the latest trip, doctors found several children suffering from bronchial pneumonia, which often occurs among malnourished children. Sadly, one-third out of 83 kids between the age of 5-12 were among the top categories of those suffering from malnutrition and had a below-the-line Body Mass Index (BMI).Is there really a future for the state where the seeds sown today can barely breathe?, is one of the issues which must be considered a subject of national emergency.


Nagada, a tribal village is located right in the middle of one of the most iron rich, chromium and manganese deposits in the world, stretching across Jajpur, Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts in Odisha, surprisingly has NO school, NO anganwadi centre, NO health-sub centre, and NO fair-price shops, even is NOT accessible due to absence of a motorable road. Completely cut-off from the required interference, Nagada has always been a hell for those who live there. Originally, the government had made the village to be covered under the Chingdipal anganwadi centre (but, Chingdipal is five-forested kilometers away), that has made Nagada to be deprived of such facilities most of the times. The locals, basically, older children and adults, work at the mining fields to meet their ends, earning for about Rs 3,000-4,000 per month and many of them grow paddy and some vegetables on tiny patches, where others hunt wild edible pants and fowls to sustain themselves.

NO school NO angadwadi centers and NO fair price shops, children growl for, nutritious meals, adequate food at rationed prices and basic education. It seems like they are confined to live in this hell, with no or little knowledge of the world around them. Several NGOs holding many campaigns and crying out only one issue –‘SAVE THE CHILDREN’, seems to be unheard and falling into only deaf ears, as of now.

What if someone needs a quick –medical facility or there is a widespread disease in the village? The nearest government hospital is in Kuika, which is 272 kms away. Fortunately, there is another one such but poorly operating centre, which is 18 kms away, where the seriously afflicted kids were rushed as there was outbreak of chickenpox in the district few months ago.

Only 10,000 people belonging to the Juang tribe are left, mostly living in these un-remote districts of Odisha and adjoining Jharkhand, they are barely making a living out of what they earn and what they grow. The only question that boils down to the point is, should they be left for being perished by massively growing hunger and the unattended diseases even if the country becomes a superpower? Or is it one such sacrifice in the name of national development?