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Jharkhand Irrigation Crisis: Pending projects escalate costs

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Ranchi: Many irrigation projects in Jharkhand, several of them conceived over four decades ago, are still pending and thus draining Jharkhand’s exchequer. The cost of some projects has seen an escalation of around 50 times the original estimates.

Work on eight major and 18 medium projects is under way for the last two to three decades. The delay is not only financially hurting the tribal state, more than half of whose population lives below the poverty line, but also adding to the woes of the farmers, already reeling under successive droughts.

Take the case of the partially completed Swarnrekha Multi Purpose Project (SMPP), the biggest irrigation project in the state. Mooted in 1973, its cost was estimated at Rs 128.99 crore (almost $19 million) in 1978. The estimate was revised in 2011 to Rs.6,613.74 crore. Till February 2015, the expenditure was about Rs.3,575 crore.

The state government plans to complete the SMPP by 2017-2018, when it will irrigate more than 200,000 hectares of agricultural land against around 45,000 hectares it now services.

Besides the SMPP, there are scores of large, medium, and small irrigation projects pending in the state.

The Ajay Barrage was mooted in 1975 at an estimated cost of Rs.10.34 crore. This was upped to Rs.351.84 crore in 2007, and the total amount spent on it till 2015 is Rs.337.72 crore.

The project, on completion, will irrigate 40,510 hectares of land in Deoghar and Dumka districts.

According to officials, the canal work and other work of the project is nearly 90 percent complete.

Then, there is the Gumani irrigation project for Sahebganj and Pakur districts that was planned in 1976 at an initial estimate of Rs 3.83 crore. In 2007, the cost was upped to Rs 162.32 crore, and till 2015 the amount had been spent. Ninety-eight percent of the project’s canal work is now complete, officials say.

The oldest is the North Koel irrigation project. Mooted in 1970 at an estimated cost of Rs.30 crore, this has now been revised to Rs 814.73 crore.

Officials attribute the long delay in completion of the projects to several factors such as irregular funding, long-winded acquisition, and rehabilitation policies as also “inherent paradoxes”.

“The funding for the irrigation projects was stopped for almost 10 years from 1990. There are inherent paradoxes in the projects. Land of X person is submerged and Y person gets the benefits, causing public protests. The land acquisition, rehabilitation, and displacement policies, as also other factors delayed the projects,” Sukhdeo Singh, principal secretary of the Water Resources Department, told IANS.

The state government is expediting the pending irrigation projects and is trying to revive the lost potential of the completed projects.

According to the official, the state lost 200,000 hectares of the 300,000 hectares land in the completed irrigation projects due to lack of maintenance.

“In the next financial year (2016-17), we are planning to make budgetary provisions to restore the lost 200,000 hectares land of the completed project,” Sukhdeo Singh said.

Irrigation is a cause for concern in the state, in which the hilly areas and small landholdings is not conducive for farming. The state produces only half of its total consumption of food grains, while the state government declared the entire state as drought affected in the current financial year that ends on March 31.

As per official records, 23 percent of the cultivable land is fed through the irrigation system, but experts claim the actual area is only around 12 per cent.

Jharkhand’s total land area is 7.97 million hectares, of which 2. 97 million hectares are cultivable. (Nityanand Shukla, IANS)(Photo: Wikipedia)

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‘Tribes of India’ : An Online Database to Document the Lives of Indian Tribes

The database would contain rare and exclusive videos and photographs, above thousands, which have been collected from various Tribal Research Institutes around the country

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Indian Tribes, Tribal culture
Tribal culture. Wikimedia
  • The ‘Tribes of India’ will showcase the lifestyle, culinary culture, conditions of living of the tribes
  • It is going to be amazing to form a database collecting all the information regarding the characteristics of the tribes, as those will be accessible in the distance of a click
  • Experts from the ministry has also stated that the database would be frequently updated with new research inputs from sources and scientists

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: The very first attempt at producing a documentation of the lives of the tribal in India, is ongoing. The ‘Tribes of India’ will showcase the lifestyle, culinary culture, conditions of living, and historical and chronological facts regarding the evolution of their traditions and culture. The ‘repertoire’ is focusing on answering questions such as- the difference between the Gond tribe of Uttar Pradesh and the Gonds of Jharkhand, whether the tribes in Jharkhand possess a secret cure for anemia, and the status of living of the Santhals in the remote forest-zones.

ALSO READ: Lalung Tribe of Northeast India: What Makes them Stand Apart!

A database on the tribes of India is to be created by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The project aims to bring into light the art and culture, history of evolution and anthropological facts, lifestyle and eating practices, the rate of mortality, education system, architecture and the contribution of the tribals in India’s struggle for freedom, Economic Times has reported.

It has been planned that the database would contain rare and exclusive videos and photographs, above thousands, which have been collected from various Tribal Research Institutes around the country. It is true that the research institute has always showcased such collections, but this is the first time it is going to be saved in an exclusive database.

It is going to be amazing to form a database collecting all the information regarding the characteristics of the tribes, as those will be accessible in the distance of a click, from now on. Techniques to introduce a feature that would enable a viewer to take a virtual tour of the architecture of a tribal hut is also going to be implemented, a senior ministry official said to Economic Times.

According to the report, about 10 crore scheduled-tribe people form an 8.6% of the entire population of the country. But it has been observed that there has been no sincere attempt to showcase and explore the unique lifestyle of the tribes. The official further stated that the database would pose as an excellent guide for the research-scholars because it will contain the necessary statistics. Experts from the ministry have also stated that the database would be frequently updated with new research inputs from sources and scientists.

The database is to follow the effort of the government to explore and showcase the lifestyle of the Indian tribes and dedicate some museums as well to the tribes. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed the nation and asked all to explore and research on the contributions made by the Scheduled Tribes in India’s freedom struggle, Economic Times has reported.

The database will also include links to the museums of various states post their construction.

-prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC