Five abandoned villages in Odisha's Niyamgiri hills that have now been reclaimed by the forest indicate a complete failure of governance and lack of the state's reach and action among the Dongria Kondh indigenous people.
Jhita Kutruka is the lone survivor of Ankurbali village in Niyamgiri hills
The whereabouts of the people who were living in these villages is a mystery to the local administration and those living in nearby villages.
Of the 10 villages on the Niyamgiri hill slope under Shibapadar panchayat in official records, only five exist today. The rest have vanished during the last two-three decades, Chandra Sekhar Behera, former sarpanch (village council chief) of Shibapadar, told VillageSquare.in. Of the existing villages, Jarapa is now on the verge of extinction, he added.
"Jakasika Kuli died. Two others died too. I lost my brother and his family to unknown diseases. The whole village was terrified. I shifted to Serkapadi village down the hill slopes. As my wife died there, I moved to Kesharpadi," said 65-year-old Jhita Kutruka, the lone known survivor from Ankurbali village traced by VillageSquare.in so far. "I don't know what happened to other survivors. But, each time a disease came, at least three-four people from our village used to die," Jhita said at his present village, Kesharpadi.