MIRZA, July 6 � Women of strong constitution working at the sand mahals of Loharghat forest are earning livelihood for hundreds of forest dwelling impoverished families. Used to laborious tasks, they have little time to spare and no other employment avenue, they have to leave for their respective work places at early hours.
Seemingly unflagging, they are seen shovelling upto 12 hours at a stretch and are devoted to their back-breaking underpaid work.
�The more we excavate the sand, more are the wages we get,� a four member group of women in their 30s informed this correspondent and further added that they could load upto three trucks in a day. The women have to toil still harder due to environmental hazards such as inclement weather and excavating sand in knee-deep water when the Batha river is in spate.
Mention may be made that this economically and ecologically prominent sub-tributary of the Kulshi river produces good quality sand and fetches remunerative returns to the suppliers.
�We have to lift sand in the upper reaches by rowing boats upto 2 kms from the ghat,� informed Purnima Rabha and Deepali Rabha, adding their earnings suffer in the event of torrential rains during the monsoon.
But the wages they earn daily is too little to meet the daily expenses following the exorbitant prices of essential commodities.
Besides excavating sand and then loading it, these women pull hand carts in the hour of need and also supply sand.
What is disheartening to note is that the children have to bear the brunt of their mothers� busy schedule of toiling in the sand mahals. Deprived of parental care, their children are doomed to face hard days ahead without rudimentary schooling.
�We pay scant attention to their upbringing as we have little time to spare a thought for our children,� informed the women labourers.
Worse still, the host of schemes earmarked for rural poor have failed to reach them since most of these ill-fated families are yet to have the Government-sponsored facilities. A case in point is the Government-sponsored dwelling units as the pleas of the families, who are living below the poverty line, have fallen on deaf ears.
According to Neelima Boro and Sumitra Kayasho, they are yet to have the IAY shelter, as their pleas on several occasions have gone unheard.
�It is a sheer waste of their precious time to go either to the Block office or the Panchayat office. Pleas fail to evince response if the palms of a section of the officials and panchayat representatives are not greased,� another group of women alleged, bringing a serious charge of malpractice in the allotment procedure of IAY houses.