Ratni, Love and Banwasi at the district collectorate in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Three Sabar children from Potka were brought by an NGO to Jamshedpur for treatment on Friday after they were found suffering from blurred vision possibly due to malnutrition, their state mirroring an administration that appears blind to the gap between aims and results of schemes for primitive tribes.
The three Love (6), son of Ramu Sabar, Ratni (14) and Banwasi (15), daughters of Chogra Sabar are residents of Tangrain village, which has around 15 Sabar families in Potka block of East Singhbhum, around 40km from the steel city.
Jamshedpur-based NGO Youth Unity for Voluntary Action (Yuva), which has been working in the region among primitive tribes including Sabars for the past one decade, first noticed the trio.
Today, Yuva officials brought them for treatment at MGM Medical College and Hospital in Sakchi.
While Love has developed a defect in the cornea, the two others have less power in their eyesight and were diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (an inherited eye disease in which there is damage to the retina and can lead to severe impairment and blindness). The doctors said all the three were also suffering from nutritional deficiency that might further hamper their vision, said Yuva secretary Barnali Chakraborty.
East Singhbhum welfare officer Philbius Barla said the state ran four schemes exclusively for primitive tribes medical relief (free treatment); distribution of solar lamps and lanterns; livelihood income generation for tribals like fishery, goat rearing and piggery; and CMs special food security scheme (35kg of rice per month).
However, Potka BDO Payal Raj was clueless.
I am not in a position to say at this moment whether foodgrains are being distributed in the villages there, she said.
Raj could not give information about the living conditions of Sabar tribals at Tangrain either. I am in hospital for treatment and would have to check with local officials about the status of tribals in Tangrain, she added.
Head of ophthalmology at MGM Bijoy Narayan, who examined the three, said Love would have to undergo corneaplasty while the two girls would need high-power glasses for the time being and further treatment.
We do not have the facility for corneaplasty. Love does not have any vision in his right eye while the two others have blurred vision in both eyes, said Narayan, adding that all three were suffering from nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamin A for a long period, which in future would further hamper their vision.
District welfare officer Barla has sought a report from MGM hospital superintendent S.S. Prasad. I have arranged free check-up of the children at Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital in Ranchi. We will arrange their operation and treatment at the hospital, he said.
Barla also shot off a letter to BDO Raj and the district special officer (rationing) today, seeking a report on the exact status of the food security scheme in Potka.