Narmada – नर्मदा

पुढील राज्य महाराष्ट्र आहे …. (Translation : Next state is Maharashtra). If you have traveled in Mumbai(Maharashtra, India) local trains, you must have heard this  announcement. There the announcement is about the next station. And we hereby announce the arrival of Narmada at Maharashtra’s lands.

After traveling a distance of around 1000 Kms. in Madhya Pradesh, Narmada Ji now enters the land of Marathas. Actually it does not enter the state. It passes by the state along the border of Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh traveling a distance of 35 Kms. After this it runs across the border of Maharashtra & Gujrat for 39 Kms. It is a brief stint here in Maharashtra.

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Courtesy : Google Maps

At the border of Madhya Pradesh & Maharashtra lies Nandurbar. Nandurbar’s north boundary is marked by the flowing Narmada river. Nandurbar is also mentioned in the epic Hindu Ramayana where it is called as Krushik. Its actually a pity that in-spite of being mentioned in the epics like Ramayan, this place has a huge problem of malnutrition. Also, being in the vicinity of a river where soil fertility should be there; its quite strange that such a place is not able to provide enough food for its children. Several committees have been formed and initiatives taken in this regard. However, malnutrition and farmer suicides plague this area.

Tribal communities to India are an exotica !

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Tribals of Nandurbar. Image Source – Flickr

However, our understanding of their day to day problems is limited.

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Unemployment and Malnutrition in Nandurbar.
Image Courtesy – The Indian Express

Several initiatives like door-to-door screening of malnourished children are carried out. Aanganwadis (Day Care centers) for poverty stricken population also provide the basic care like food and shelter to the children of below six years. Problem of malnutrition still exists in the region.

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Another child who has been diagnosed as ‘severe acute malnourished’. Image Courtesy : The Indian Express

Citing a news report from The Indian Express –

Nandurbar district health officer Dr Radhakishan Pawar says high vacancies have crippled the system. There are 34 vacant posts of doctors in 58 PHCs of Nandurbar, as doctors are unwilling to work in tribal postings or leave within a few months. Of 581 doctors tagged as “absconding” in Maharashtra by the Health Ministry recently, several are posted in Nandurbar. The Indian Express, April 2017 Edition

Out of all the reasons that are quoted for such situations, unawareness always tops the charts. Residents of these places are unaware of the facilities that they can avail. Also inaccessibility to these services is an issue. A certain instance published in The Indian Express 2017 edition highlights the inaccessibility to the essential services. An ambulance that rushed to a 24 years old woman in labor pains had to stop 2 kms. away from the pregnant woman as there was no road connectivity to her village. The villagers were asked to get her to the ambulance waiting 2 kms. away in bamboo sticks. Eventually, the woman delivered the baby at home only.

Apart from this farmer’s suicide is another problem that is prevalent in this region. Though that is true for most part of rural Maharashtra. Having the commercial capital of India in the same state does not help the farmers of the state to earn a livelihood devoid of suicides.

There is another aspect of Nandurbar which is in stark contrast to the malnourished state of children and farmers committing suicide. Chetak Festival of Sarangkheda. Its a festival where horse owners participate with the equestrian breeds.

The following images shall highlight the contrast between the two parallel lives – one of poverty and hunger. Another of progress and excess. The intent is not to demean a particular life. Both of these exist in the same world we live. We might love one and would like another to end. But what is more important is for these two lives to talk to each other. Attempt is to make these two lives talk to each other. Both of these could offer something to each other and make things little better !

After all these two lives live nearby – around 47 kms. away

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Images from Sarangkheda’s Chetak Festival.

Image Credit :

Can these two lives talk to each other, please ? because they live close by…

Can the local government administration do their bit in making these two lives talk ? After all its their duty to make things happen for everyone in their district.

Some people believe that Narmada flows in the state of Maharashtra only for a short distance. That is the reason why this region’s economy fails to get much benefit from the river. Historically, rivers have been the reason for settlement for civilizations.

Is that the reason why children is Nandurbar are malnourished … because Narmada does not cover a large distance in Nandurbar ? What is the use of all the human knowledge and technology (read Economic Studies and Government committees) then if we have to quote Narmada traveling a short distance in Maharashtra the reason?

Apart from the above cited events and happenings, Nandurbar offers some temples and sightseeing spots for the tourists.

We saw the best of the Nandurbar in the form of a horse festival and the worst in the form of several malnourished children. Please do let us know if you come across any initiative that government has taken for malnourished children. An initiative that is showing results. Or any initiative that has been taken up by local business community which is proving beneficial for the children.

And with that request for any news that you might have, we travel along with Narmada ji to Gujrat – the last leg of our Journey with Narmada.

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