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Niraj Jain/Our Bureau
Inmates of a residential government school at a remote village in Sahebganj district have deprived of free oxygen to inhale despite they are living amid sylvan calm. Mushrooming stone crasher units have started free supply of fatal flying stone dusts in the environment for them.
Flourishing stone crashers have started oozing flying stone dust contains round o’ clock to the air. Besides, the crashers also have started posing potent threats to the ecology of the Rajmahal hills, virtually started destroying the picturesque hill covered with greenish patch. Such green hill covers are also the native place of hill-men better known as Paharais, one of the most endangered primitive ethnic tribes.
How serious Jharkhand government is for protecting endangered primitive Paharia tribe has always been a question. But if you visit Dibricoal a remote village under Pathna block of Sahebganj, you will be surprised to witness the ongoing destruction of Nature and its resources under the nose of government machineries.
The government’s residential school for the wards of Paharais, the primitive tribes and natives of Damin-i-kho (a Partisan word meaning Lahanga of hills), the areas on Rajmahal series of hills that once demarked as the native place of the hill-men (Paharias) by the British, was established by the government. Such government schools for Paharia students are common at the districts of Santhal Parganas like that one at Dibricoal.
But such schools have common phenomenon- all are under the apathy slur of government but are in function just because the system have been carrying as a part of governmental formality. Welfare department of Jharkhand government has been funding huge amount every year, part of a formality. But never serious to take the responsibility of ensuring a better management for the schools.
“We don’t have any option to consume stone dusts through the air and to face its consequences,” many students disclosed while pointing towards a stone crasher at the vicinity of the school premises. Many students are found with the symptom of dust related breathing problems. “We too have been suffering in other ways due to mismanagement; the windows of the hostel rooms are mostly broken and we have to face the cold winds in the chilled winter nights,” some students pointed out.
“Who cares for us, the government only doing formalities. Since we are not the factor of vote banks, political parties also avoid to address our plights and miseries,” Bandhe Paharia, whose son is an inmate in the residential Paharia school acclaimed.
Like the other districts in Santhal Parganas, Sahabganj too have a Paharia officer in the welfare department to look after this endangered primitive tribe. The officer was not available at his office at Sahebganj but most of the inmates of the school along with many local Paharia residents of the area confirmed that none of them had seen the officer at the school.
“You should go to deputy commissioner (DC), Sahebganj and should ask the officer how the stone crashers are functioning illegally on a protects lands of the hill-tribes?” asked Hopna Kisku, a Santhal college student at Pathna. Very relevant question, how the illegal stone mining and stone crashers could function in the hearts of Dami-e-kho? Despite several attempts, DC, Sahebganj was not available for comment.
Ramesh Hembrom, an expert in tribal affairs alleged state government for its failures to protect the interests of tribals. “The governor is the real protector of such endangered ethnic tribes, has less concern about the constitutional probations. Second since the Panchyat extension schedule area (PESA) act which is mediatory for such areas having the population of such tribes, yet not implicated here. Hence, there is none to safeguard the interests of such primitive tribes,” he explained.
Hembrom further disclosed how the outsiders managed to trap the innocent Paharias with allurements. “With few rupees and few bottles of country liquor the outsider contractors manage to take permission of the local Gram Sabha (majority of Paharias are illiterate even today) and starts such illegal game while violating the basis norms,” he alleged.
Paharia who once rule the entire Santhal Parganas today virtually have started starving atop Rajmahal series of hills spread across Santhal Pargan hills, has become a common phrase. But history contradicts it; history says that the Paharia, a mighty race of warriors never compromised with the foreign invaders like Mughals or the British who ruled the country. During Pala periods (755 Bc to nearly 1140) the hill-tribes contributed lots for Vikramshila Buddha Mahavihara and created many exemplary works. “Ironically, the Paharia race having a golden past, today struggling for survival and perhaps Dibricoal school and its inmates are the classic example of it,” Adhir Roy, an old-timer at Sahabganj told sadly.