Odisha Channel Bureau
Bhubaneswar: Expressing deep concern over the detection of COVID-19 infection in Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) groups in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has sought a compliance report from the State government.
Of the 13 PVTG tribes, at least six people from two of these primitive tribes in the state had contracted the COVID-19 disease. While one member of the Bonda tribe had got infected, five from the Didayi tribe tested coronavirus positive.
“It is a matter of grave concern and the chief secretary, Odisha, should submit a factual report and an action taken report by September 25”, NCST in a ruling ordered.
Odisha is home to a diverse group of 62 Scheduled Tribe communities and 13 PVTGs. Besides Bonda and Didayi, there are 11 more particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) in Odisha which are characterized by declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and economic backwardness.
The Bondas, scattered across 32 remote hilltop villages in the Eastern Ghats of Malkangiri district, are believed to have come to India as part of the first wave of migration out of Africa about 60,000 years ago.
More than one lakh Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) groups are living in 888 villages in eleven districts of the State. The PVTG people are marked by the unique and distinctive lifestyle, culture, costumes besides the traditional art. Despite slew of policies and programmes, the community lags behind with poverty and backwardness being the perennial feature of their lives.
The PVTG tribal settlers perched upon hilly terrain in Khairput block of Malkangiri district are safe and there is no cause of worry of coronavirus infecting them. Only a stray case has so been reported. They are living in complete isolation, cut off from the rest of the world, claimed government officials on Tuesday.
“The administration is laying due emphasis on the safety of around 8,000 Bondas in view of the current health crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic. They are living in far-flung hilly pockets in Andrahal and Mudulipada villages in Khairput block of the district. Officials of Bonda Development Agency (BDA) in joint endeavor with self help groups of Khairpur have sensitised them of the deadly disease,” said Malkangiri Collector Manish Agarwal.