Kutru Malli – A Village In Odisha That Never Changed

by | Jul 8, 2018

In this technological era, we have seen so many inventions and have gotten addicted to them to an extent that we have almost forgotten finding little joys, like playing on streets, climbing trees, board games. We feel handicapped if there is a signal blackout for 2-3 days. That’s what technology has done to us.

On the other side, there are people living in harsh terrains without any amenities. They walk 5-10 km each time they have to go to a nearby village, depending on the day of weekly bazaar, or for other work. A few people have no idea about Facebook or Instagram.

Recently, I was in Kalahandi, Odisha, visiting an organization where two of my co-fellows are working. I stayed there for 4 days in their field area, Kerpai. It’s their base location and from there, they regularly commute to nearby villages. After spending two days there, visiting villages with the team, interacting with people and exploring their culture, one of the team members suggested me to go to ‘Kutru Malli‘.

“What’s different about it?”, I thought to myself and asked how to reach. He told that I’ll need to climb a mountain, and then another before I start seeing about 30-40 houses. That’s the village. Next day, I reached as per the suggested route.

Walking and climbing all the way was absolutely worth it. The village is spread in less than 2 acres with 60 families living in that area. Because of my limited vocabulary, it’s difficult to describe how beautiful it was. It’s also amazing how these people found this village and made it home. There are mountains on one side and plain land on the other, with a river flowing in between.

There is a primary school, hardly functioning and not even a shop to buy anything. They don’t have electricity and water. One needs to walk downhill to fetch water from the river. Before reaching here, I was told that there are no medical facilities available for any kind of emergency. If anything happens, they cover the person in a blanket and two people carry him/her all the way down. I saw only a small area with tomato plantation and asked a local about farming who said they don’t cultivate much due to lack of water.


All the children are stunted and malnourished. They are playing as I sit there, looking at them being in the moment. Are they too young to realize the amount of hard work their daily life requires? Is it only people like you and I who hope for their better lives and a brighter future, or they do it too?

The houses are built of mud bricks and brick slates with grass on top. The floor is polished with cow dung. Whenever they have a storm or heavy rainfall, there’s a lot of damage and they need to re-built their houses. The main livelihood for people here, is to collect leaves, dry them, make bowls and sell them in the market. These leafy, eco-friendly bowls are widely famous across Odisha.

It is the only village I have seen until now where people are living in dark but they are self-sustaining. Almost everyone owns livestock (Sheep and Goats), who mainly live on forest produce. The people may not be considered wealthy in terms of money but their land is extremely valuable as it consists of bauxite, which is also a reason why this village is on the verge of displacement.

The corporate organizations who want to acquire this place for mining are trying to compensate by giving solar lights and other such items to the residents. People don’t really know who is distributing these things and they believe that government thinks about them. For their kids, they hope that the school starts functioning regularly and for themselves, they wish for easy access to basic health care services.

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