BY SUBRATA BISWAS
For a bureaucrat sitting in Delhi, Purulia, located in the eastern part of Chotanagpur plateau is yet another backward place. The region, which was earlier known as Junglemahal district owing to its vast forest cover, saw a new district, Manbhum, carved out in 1833. In 1956 Manbhum district was partitioned between Bihar and West Bengal. According to the 2011 census, Purulia has a population of 29.3 lakh out of which 87.26 per cent are in rural areas. Purulia has a sex ratio of 957, and a literacy rate of 64.48 per cent. Almost 40 per cent of the population is considered socially excluded. About 21 per cent of them are scheduled castes and 24 per cent are scheduled tribes.
Purulia suffers from poverty, lack of safe drinking water, health centres, connectivity in interior areas, sanitary latrines, and has poor educational standards for children.
Growing up in the idyllic countryside of Bengal, I have often found myself caught in unease while inhabiting urban cityscapes. The city engulfed the large canvas of boundless sky, silent moments of my home, noisy wings of the pigeons, my innocence and dreamy nights. During my several visits to Purulia, I became overwhelmed by the diversity in its landscape, people, and their rich culture. But for the average resident of Purulia, the sufferings in daily life are plenty. Earning a livelihood is a distant dream for many. The pebbly nature of the soil, and lack of abundant rainfall makes it a single-crop territory. Migration rates from the district are high.
(Subrata Biswas is a painter and photographer based in Kolkata)
(From the June 2016 edition of Fountain Ink)