February 10, 2017

Abandoned Niyamgiri villages tell sad tale of wholesale migration

Five abandoned villages in the 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

After walking nearly 7 km from the road head, you would reach a place on the banks of Panimunda stream in Muniguda administrative block of Odisha’s Rayagada district, where Ankurbali village once used to exist. On the slopes of lower Niyamgiri hills, the place is now a part of the forest with no remnants visible today. Till a decade ago, people of the Dongria Kondh tribe inhabited the village.
Although revenue records and voter lists still mention Ankurbali, the village no longer exists. At least four other neighbouring villages of Umbesi, Uchukumba, Haimandi and Dahli under the Shibapadar gram panchayat (village council) of Muniguda block do not exist physically.