Very often, we come across stories from tribal habitations about people being forced to carry ailing patients and pregnant women for kilometres to reach the nearest healthcare centre, because of the non-connectivity of roads. A recent habitation survey carried out by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency in the 11 tribal mandals of Visakhapatnam has identified 978 habitations as ‘doli habitations’. This constitutes 26% of the total habitations in the tribal areas.
The people in these regions are forced to carry patients in a makeshift stretcher called a ‘doli’, made of cloth harnessed to a wooden pole. With no hospitals even kilometres away and no proper road connectivity, ambulances are often unable to reach interior parts of the tribal region.
The habitation survey revealed that 70% of tribal habitations do not have mobile connectivity in the 11 tribal mandals. There is no internet penetration in 84% of the habitations. The habitation survey was carried out to collect the latest information about the tribal communities. Speaking to TNM, Gopalakrishna Ronanki, Integrated Tribal Development Agency Project Officer, said it was imperative that the habitual survey be carried out for information. “As it has been very long since the last census, we did not have the latest data. We need the data to plan our activities, welfare and development projects. The habitual survey was carried out by the staff of ITDA and took nearly three months. Now we have all the data that we require and interesting details have emerged from the survey.”
A tribal habitation in Visakapatnam's Chintapalli mandal
The total population in the 11 mandals stands at 6.59 lakh. The number of women stands higher than the number of men among the tribal population. While there are 3.23 lakh men the population of women stood at 3.35 lakh across the 11 districts. “The trend in the hilly terrain has always been such that the number of women is more than the men. In the numbers revealed in the 2011 census, too, this was the case. The tribal communities do not differentiate between a boy and a girl hence there is no female infanticide among their communities,” explained the project officer.
The survey also revealed that 28% of the ST population in the 11 mandals belonged to the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PvTG).
A man from the Tribal community carries his produce to the weekly market in Chintapalli
While 886 habitations had katcha roads, 569 habitations out of the total had absolutely no road connectivity. This constituted around 3,700 km of having no road connectivity. Around 4% of the total habitation did not have electricity while 10% of habitations did not even have a source for drinking water. 87% of the tribal habitations did not have access to the Road Transport Corporation’s bus service.
Less than a month ago, the Union Cabinet sanctioned the release of Rs 33,822 crore for building roads and improving mobile connectivity in 44 tribal districts in the country. The two projects will help build nearly 1.4 lakh km of roads and more than 2,500 bridges in tribal districts and also set up 4G-enabled mobile phone towers. As part of the Union government’s project, the telecom connectivity works will be taken up in Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha. The government has set a deadline of 2022 for this project.