P Mishra

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Giridih: Almost 200 tribal families particularly the housewives and elderly women living across the countryside in naxal-hit Gridih district earn their livelihood by extracting and collecting rubbles and stones spread over the forest areas amid small hills and hillocksunder Pirtand block.

Natives of Karando, Dondosimar, Khamarbad, Gobarandha, Virajpur, Kangodi and few other villages under naxal hit Pirtand block, these families have neither sufficient source of agriculture nor alternative source of income. Far from their villages, these women have set up small shades with bushes and bamboo sticks amidst small hills and hillocks.

“Leaving their small kids and parents bhind, they arrive here early in the morning and work throughout the day. While sections of women, extract stones and rubbles scattered along the foothills and suburban localities, others break them into peaces before handing them over to the stone traders,” said a 52 year man, Buddhan Da, who monitors entire activities and looks after the problems of the women.

“Actually, the local traders collect it on nominal rates and sell it to the big traders in township. Although the price varies from season to season but normally we earn Rs 10 – 15 per packet, which they collect and take it to their godowns set up somewhere in the vicinity,” said one Sarita Devi.

“Despite availability of land, we cannot consider agriculture as a sustainable source of income due to lack of irrigation facilities. We can grow only rice and few other grains that can support our livelihood just for 3 – 4 months,” said one Sukarmuni Devi (42), a resident of Karando, adding they earn their livelihood for more than eights months in year by breaking stones and collecting rubble.

“While housewives and elderly women prefer to earn money through these activities, the male members of our families visit urban areas in search of work,” said Jitan Marandi, a social activist, adding that it was the result.

“Had the government really looked into the local issues, why these women would exhaust their time and energy just for a small amount keeping themselves away from their kids and families?”, Marandi questioned.

“Although, the matter has not come to our notice, but if it is true, the district administration will take appropriate action in this regard. Apart from connecting them with various development schemes, they would be offered job thorough MNREGA,” said Deputy Commissioner Umashankar Singh adding he would soon direct the authorities concern to look into the matter.

“If the village women especially those living in the naxal hit areas have chosen right path to earn money there is nothing wrong with it. However, we are now preparing the list of rural women so that they could be provided with appropriate works as per their talent ability,” said Blok Development Officer, Pirtand, Vikas Rai.

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