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Diarrhoea death toll: 150 versus 5

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By RAJESH KUMAR PANDEY
  • Published 27.10.10
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Dumka, Oct. 26: It is the word of the village head against the civil surgeon on how many Paharias died of diarrhoea recently.

On October 23, village head Nijri Paharia of Surajbeda under Littipara block of Pakur district submitted a petition to the office of regional deputy director of health (RDDH), Dumka, stating the toll of diarrhoea and other diseases has risen to 150 in the past three months. But Pakur civil surgeon Dr U. Ram admitted to only four or five such deaths.

In his petition — copies of which were also submitted to local reporters — the Surajbeda village head also demanded that the administration take immediate steps to provide health services to villagers. He particularly mentioned villages such as Surajbeda, Karmatand, Gutipara, Murgabani, Kachna, Pangropahari, Singapahar and Barmasia that are situated on high altitudes.

Notably, the nearest health centre at Littipara block headquarters is 8km from the clutch of villages the petition names. In the absence of roads, transport and communication facilities, ordinary ailments prove fatal.

Nijri Paharia has mentioned the names of eight people from Surajbeda who died in the past one month alone — his wife Jomi Paharin (35), Surya Paharia (50), Jome Paharia (infant) Madi Paharin (3), Kalu Paharia (40), Jama Paharia (40),Goloia Paharia (40) and Chandi Paharin (35).

Health department officials are in denial about the diarrhoea epidemic as well as the lack of basic healthcare facilities.

“There were four-five deaths of Paharias last month,” civil surgeon Ram told The Telegraph over phone on Tuesday. “We held a weeklong medical camp at village Simlong to treat diarrhoea patients, in which other diseases were also treated. There were no reports of more deaths,” he said.

Sahebganj civil surgeon Dr Diwakar Kamat, who also holds the additional charge of the RDDH, said he had not yet seen the petition.

“I am busy with my duties as civil surgeon and can hardly visit Dumka to discharge the duties of the RDDH,” Kamat said, adding he would look into the matter when in Dumka.

In a separate letter to Santhal Parganas commissioner A.K. Pandey, Nijri Paharia also said that Paharias had been deprived from Antyodaya scheme and government benefits meant for them, whichforced their dependence on forest products.

The Paharias are one of the oldest and most backward tribes of Jharkhand.