The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jharkhand greener from this side
- Hunger-zone residents mull migration

Amlashol, June 17: They live in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal but look for livelihood, education and healthcare in neighbouring Jharkhand.

For residents of Amlashol, Kankrajhore, Amjharna, Jabala and Telikhana in West Midnapore, Ghatshila and Deulipukuria are more important destinations than any in their state. So much so that many of the villagers are mulling migrating to the other side.

The area, which made news with five alleged starvation deaths, government denials and confessions, presents a picture cut off by much more than 260 km from Calcutta.

Ghatshila, 24 km from here, is a much better place to be in with schools, colleges, and healthcare facilities. Trade there may not be booming but is steady.

For villagers of Amlashol and its neighbourhood, schools in Jharkhand are nearer. The nearest junior high school this side is 10 km away, at Odalchua, and the high school at Belpahari, 28 km away.

The nearest health centre at Odalchua is all but defunct and a trip to the block health centre at Belpahari could prove fatal for the ailing. The primary health centre in Jharkhand’s Ghatiduba is 7 km away and working.

Tamal Das married his daughter into a family at Deulipukuria in Jharkhand. “My wife died without treatment after giving birth to Doli as no doctor was available. I had decided that very moment that I would not get my daughter married here,” he said.

His neighbours agreed. Most of them wanted to see their daughters married in Jharkhand. The Karmakars got Ashtami and Purnima married to youths from Kharswati. On a visit to their parents, the sisters urged Karmakar to move to their in-laws’ village. “There is a permanent market there and he can even set up shop at the weekly haat…. Doctors are available at the hospital and most children go to the local school,” Purnima said. Her father has agreed.

Das feels his son Pintu would have a “career” if he studies at Ghatiduba. Pintu said: “I am in Class IV. My father told me that if I have to take up a job, it has to be in Jharkhand as there is no opportunity here. The Hindi-medium school I am in would help me establish myself.”

Sukdeb Mura, Mongli Sabar and Kani Mahuli, who make baskets, brooms or oil from kurcha seeds, sell at Ghatshila or Bondhonia. “We fetch a better price there,” Mura said.

Parul Bala, a Jharkhand girl who married Subal Singh here, said: “When I got married, I boasted before friends that I was going to Bengal. I had heard it was a far better place.” She “felt cheated” when Subal refused to migrate to his wife’s native state.

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