Dear Friends of Godda,
I recently visited Godda and my birth place Boarijor and I was very sad to see the condition of the hospital which is at the verge of collapsing and I wrote a letter to the Governor of Jharkhand who is responsible for running the Presidential rule at the moment.
I was born and brought up in a tribal family at Boarijor and have been domiciled in UK for more than 40 years. But I still have love and affection for the people I have left behind. My father Late Ram Soren was a Manjhi of the village and Pargana of the area. He was honoured by the President of India in mid seventies for his outstanding and self less service to the local communities of the area and in particular tribal people.
He was visionary and far sighted and understood the importance of the block development office for the development of the area and its people in the Independent India. He was instrumental in bringing the block offices and hospital to Boarijor against all odds.
He gave his land for the hospital and girls school at the time of starting block in 1955 and persuaded the local villagers to part with their lands for the block offices and living quarters for the staff working there.
In mid 1980s, the government decided to shut down the original hospital which was close to the block office and nearer from the village and local bazaar. The hospital was popular and well attended and was safe for the patients and the staff.
The new REFERAL HOSPITAL was built in 1985-1986 with good intention but it was sited miles away from human habitation without consultation and informed consent of the local people. As a result, it never functioned as a hospital because the patients and the staff were afraid of working and living there.
Apart from odd out patients, the hospital buildings have been empty all these years except for one week in a year when these are used for BLIND RELIEF CAMPS by a local charitable trust named after my late father. The PARGANAIT RAM SOREN MEMORIAL TRUST has been organising these camps regularly every year with the support of Medical Welfare Society, Liverpool, UK for last 19 years. There is no infrastructure and basic amenities or logistic support available from the hospital as they have none and the patients and their attendants have to sleep on the floor.
I have been attending these camps regularly and have watched the slow but sure decline and disintegration of the hospital buildings. There are no shutters on the doors and windows and the buildings are crumbling and are unsafe to work and keep any patients even for a very limited period. During the last camp on 14th of February 2009, we had a fright of our life when one of the walls of a veranda collapsed in front of our eyes. Luckily no one was hurt.
Apart from the deplorable state of the hospital buildings, there are no medical officers posted there on regular basis. I met 3 well mannered and dedicated young doctors during the last Blind Relief camp there. They informed me that they are on deputation but they do not live there as there are no facilities for them and their families.
If that is the state of the REFERAL HOSPITAL, one can imagine the services at the Primary health care centres and to the communities at large.
The Profile of Boarijor block:
Boarijor is one of the 6 blocks of the district of Godda and is primarily a tribal block in the Damin-I-Koh
• Total Population- 1,13225
• ST 60% 67,590 +10,800 (Paharia)
• SC 3672
• Literacy of all; 33.56% (31,134) in comparison to 54.13% of the state.
• Literacy of tribal people; 19% only
This block is one of the most backward, deprived and neglected in the state of Jharkhand and people are not awake to life and freedom in spite of 63 years of the Independence of India. The majority of the population are poor and live in the leaking thatched houses.
• Still using primitive tools for cultivation and livelihood and migrate to the surrounding states for works after few months of harvesting.
• Have no irrigation facilities and are dependant on Monsoon for their agriculture.
• There is no electricity supply to the villages except for the coal mining areas of Lalmatia (Eastern Coal Field Limited), one of the biggest and surrounding villages.
• There are schools and few colleges but the quality of education and retention of students is poor and the illiteracy amongst the tribal population is far below the rest of Jharkhand.
• Health care is poor and inaccessible for the tribal people and have to depend on private practitioners and quacks if they can afford and herbal medicines resulting in premature and avoidable deaths.
• Infants and maternal deaths are still high and unacceptable.
• There is no clean and safe drinking water which can reduce the water borne diseases by more than quarter.
• Roads from Lalmatia to Borio via Boarijor and from Boarijor to Bhuska in the west and Mirzachawki in the north are no better than when I left my village by bullock cart for England more than 40 years ago except that they were dusty and muddy then but now they are full of stone chips, gravels and ditches.
• But there is a railway track running past tribal villages including Boarijor for goods trains only to carry coal to Farraka power plants but none for the travelling public.
• No job opportunities for the majority of the local people for 9 months of the year except few hundred labouring and menial jobs in the coal mines.
• Lack of jobs nearer home have resulted in migration of work force to urban towns and cities affecting social and cultural fabrics of the tribal people and become the victims of the modern day diseases of the HIV and AIDS.
I am saddened to see the pathetic conditions of the local people who are voiceless and helpless and no one to speak up for them. There has been very little noticeable development and progress in the area.
As a native of Boarijor village, I felt obliged to bring these facts of neglect to Your Excellency's kind attention for early investigation and appropriate actions to alleviate the suffering of the innocent and the poor tribal people.
DHUNI SOREN (Dr.)