This Jharkhand Village Has Bigger Problems Than COVID-19   

A village in Jharkhand is aware of coronavirus but that’s not their major concern.

4 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

“So far only once a doctor came to the village. He checked for fever on the move.”
Narayan Ram, Deputy Mukhiya, Jawar Village, Jharkhand

Almost 76% of Jharkhand’s population lives in rural pockets in India. The Jawar village in Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand is home to hundreds of migrant workers. The villagers say coronavirus is just one among the many woes plaguing them.

We spoke to villagers to find out how they are dealing with the crises. The coronavirus was not on top of Pachu Chandravanshi’s mind when we spoke to him about it.


What do you know about the disease?

We don’t have proper roads, no proper water supply, we get electricity too.

No, I am asking about the disease.

We don’t have a hospital. We are still waiting for primary healthcare in the village. By the time we take a person to the hospital, he dies. Some time we are short of money (to pay medical bills) and we return empty handed.

What do you know about coronavirus?

In the village we have told people to maintain 1 metre distance. We are praying that the disease doesn’t enter our house. We are praying every day.

Residents of Jawar village.
Residents of Jawar village.
(Image: Poonam Agarwal/The Quint)

For Meena Devi, resident of Jawar village, coronavirus is not a major concern. Meeting daily needs is what worries her. She has no source of income, as her sons who work as taxi drivers in Delhi are now jobless.

What precautions are you taking to deal with coronavirus?

People are talking about coronavirus disease across the world, but we don’t have doctors here. We hope for some facility for us poor. Some people are getting ration, some are not getting it. Some are eating and some are hungry. My son has come back from Delhi. Now we have no source of income.

What does your son do?

My son drives a taxi in Delhi. Of three sons, one has come back, two are still stuck there. We are staying at home and keeping ourselves clean, washing hands before eating food.


Social Distancing, Just A Term

The residents of Jawar village are aware that they are supposed to maintain at least one metre distance from each other but they are unclear of the reasons.

The government officials and doctors need to do more to spread awareness, said Narayan Ram, Deputy Mukhiya of Jawar village.

Has any government doctor visited the village?

So far only once a doctor came to the village. He checked for fever on the move.

How could he check the temperature on move?

He checked fever of a few people while sitting inside the car and then moved on.

Did he explain about the precautions that should be taken by the villagers to tackle COVID-19?

No, he did not tell us anything about it.


‘I Forced My Son To Take 14 Days' Quarantine’

Some villagers are aware of the disease and are taking necessary precautions. Ashok Ramchandra’s son worked as a driver in a metropolitan city. He forced his son to be in 14 days' quarantine against his will.

“My son stopped to meet a government doctor at a block. The doctor checked him and others but when they were told they will be quarantined, they were scared and ran away. I told them that they should not come to the village till the government completes his check-up. They were kept in custody (quarantine) at Parkhatta chowk.”
Ashok Ramchandra Vanshi, Resident of Jawar Village, Jharkhand   

At the same time Ashok claimed local quarantine camps have poor facilities.

“Government has provided facility in quarantine camps but it lacks in certain aspects. They provide sattu for breakfast and sometimes pressed rice (chudda). Lunch is not a proper meal and that’s why my son told me that he doesn’t like it. Hence, we go everyday (to quarantine facility) to give him food. I did not see any doctor and cleanliness (in quarantine facility).”
Ashok Ramchandra Vanshi, Resident of Jawar Village, Jharkhand  

The Jawar village has a population of around 2,000 people, of which around 60 families do not have ration card. A list has been prepared of these 60 families and have also been sent to the administration but the village is yet to receive ration for these families.

“It might take a week to receive ration from the administration for the families without ration card.”
Dukhan Paswaan, Mukhiya, Jawar Village, Jharkhand

The local shopkeepers are also facing problems in transporting ration due to lockdown.

“We are facing problem in getting ration to the village. Earlier, ration was delivered in a vehicle by evening to the village. But now we have to go on a bike or hire a vehicle to get ration.”
Narayan Ram: Deputy Mukhiya, Jawar Village, Jharkhand

As the world panics over the spread of COVID-19, the residents of Jawar struggle to survive for lack of food and basic amenities.

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