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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

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Exclusive: Journalist Sanjay Mehta’s Report On Plight of The Tribes in Jharkhand

Journalist Sanjay Mehta, who went and stayed in Saranda village in Jharkhand, witnessed the plight and the worsened living conditions of the tribes people in the area

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Sanjay Mehta
Sanjay Mehta, a journalist from Jharkhand, with children from Saranda region. Sanjay Mehta
  • Sanjay Mehta is a journalist and a student of law hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand
  • The journalist went and stayed with the tribes people of Saranda, thereby witnessing their living conditions
  • Sanjay Mehta’s report reveals the plight of tribes have been completely neglected by the system and the government leading to their shambolic living conditions

July 06, 2017:

Sanjay Mehta, a student of law at Vinoba Bhave University, is also a journalist hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. On 21st June, Mehta decided to visit Saranda forest region to get a closer glimpse of the various tribes that inhabit the place. This was Sanjay Mehta’s own initiative as he considers himself personally bonded with the clan.

Having visited many villages in the region and living among these tribes, Mehta developed a deeper understanding of the poor living conditions of these people who are ignored by both, the system as well as the government.

Sanjay Mehta
A tribe woman with her child. Sanjay Mehta

The Saranda forest, which lies in the West Singhbhum district, is approximately 200Kms away from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Mehta reports that the living condition of the people is inhumane. The tribal clan is desperate for a better life. He continues that the offsprings of these people are victims of malnutrition and their present condition is fretting.

The pregnant women have frightful conditions to encounter every day throughout their pregnancy. Additionally, there are problems with the drinking water due to its high iron ore content. Mehta has discovered these problems since his visit to the region where the entire atmosphere is tragical and disappointing. Ignored by the authorities, it is as if these people are left to work things out on their own. Such situations suffered by the entire ethnic group is ridiculously disturbing.

Also Read: Exclusive: Why Gorkhaland for Gorkhas?

Villages like Meghahatuburu, Kotgarh, Gua, Tatiba, Lokasi, among many others, are struggling for basic necessities of life. The doctors in the hospitals are under-staffed, schools lack students who suffer from malnutrition while the entire community have only the nature for survival (which isn’t enough in today’s world). Having failed completely, the questions should be aimed towards the Govt.

Sanjay Mehta
The children of families in Saranda, Jharkhand suffer from malnutrition and malaria. Sanjay Mehta

Sanjay Mehta also alleges that the Feb 2017 report prepared by UNICEF and the Central Govt has falsely estimated that only 20% of the kids in the Saranda region suffer from malnutrition. Having lived there for 15 days now, the journalist estimates a much higher statistic than 20%. He reports that almost every kid is under-nutrition and often even minor diseases are life threatening. These deaths go unnoticed and often ignored.

The Govt. facilities are non-existent. The water problem combined with extreme unemployment implies just how badly the Govt has been performing. Even basic electricity is a rare thing in some villages. In some areas, the roads are constructed badly, and in others, you can only see crooked paths.

The region is a mining paradise making it complicated for development policies to be implemented here. Most of the land is leased out to SAIL, a public sector company, and thus the amount of money received from the centre for development is often sent back. SAIL has its own CSR initiative and therefore, do not provide an approval certificate. Although the officers have been urged time and again to look into the matter, there still has been no progress.

In his report, Sanjay Mehta has also documented the experiences of the villagers. Many people also told that the poor quality of water has infected their feet and nails. The women of Noamundi grieved that they fry insects as their meal. It is, in fact, an essential nutrition in their diet at this time of the season.

Sanjay Mehta
The drinking water has a high content of Iron ores making it a health issue. Sanjay Mehta

One villager has expressed his frustration aimed at the government. He said that the kids of the village are dying of malnutrition and malaria. The government is paying no attention to it.

Another man from a village called Kiriburu has declared the government’s policies as a complete failure. The people of the village have not reaped any benefits that the government had promised.

Juda Bodra, hailing from the Gua village, stated “I am unemployed and have no benefits from the state. This is very difficult for us”

Sanjay Mehta
Badapasia women selling insects which are an essential part of the daily meal of this tribe. Sanjay Mehta

Badapasia village resident Ghanshyam Bobonge said that the conditions for tribe’s people are miserable. “We are living the lives’ of the lowest class. No officials come and address our griefs”

When the journalist highlighted this issue in a Facebook post, it was reported and henceforth removed. The Journalist also concludes that gradually the villagers are getting more and more angry towards the establishment, which is unhealthy for any political system. Sanjay Mehta can be followed on Twitter @JournalistMehta

By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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In a Country where Employment is Struggle, Jharkhand Tribal School Dropouts train for Overseas Jobs

Teachers and students live on the campus which also has a huge vegetable garden maintained by trainees

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School children, (representational Image). Wikimedia

Bundu (Jharkhand), May 28, 2017: In a country where millions of degree holders struggle for employment, Dayanidhi Pradhan, 23, a Class 8 dropout in Jharkhand, dreams of an overseas job.

And achieving that aspiration is a real possibility — thanks to a multi-trade skill development institute that has placed hundreds of tribal youths in foreign countries.

Pradhan and over 100 others are currently enrolled for short-term skill training in various trades like electric fitting, plumbing, AC ductman and pipe fitting at the Kalyan Gurukul, housed in a sprawling green campus in this town, some 40 km from Ranchi.

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“Gurukul in Bundu has a history of placing almost all of its students abroad,” Pradhan told IANS, remembering how his peers — Boodhu Munda, Gopal Munda and Shahnawaz Bhai, who were also skilled at the institute — are now working in the Gulf.

Most of the tribal youth working in the Gulf had not even visited Ranchi, the state capital, he said.

Kalyan Gurukul is run by PanIIT Alumni Reach for India Foundation (PARFI), sponsored by the state government and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) of the government of India.

The institute began operations in October 2013 with a batch of 19 with the aim of training tribal youth as well as those from other economically-backward sections of society who had dropped out of schools. The government has opened 10 similar training centres across the state.

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All these institutes — that are much like ITIs — are called “Gurukul”, replicating not only the name but also a strict regime of discipline and time management of ancient Indian schools.

Teachers and students live on the campus which also has a huge vegetable garden maintained by trainees.

Every morning starts with yoga, meditation, prayers and a healthy breakfast before classes begin.

The Bundu centre is headed by ex-servicemen Pramod Kumar Pandey, who said “patriotic values” coupled with life skills, including financial and credit literacy, are part of the training programme.

“Students enrolled in Gurukul have to pay a basic fee of Rs 18,000 provided through a loan financing scheme with NABARD. Repayment starts once the student gets a placement,” Pandey told IANS.

Many of Gurukul students now work in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, he said.

“We hone skills of the students according to the contemporary needs of the market. Since inception, we have placed around 276 students in Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. The latest batch of around 104 students have also been selected by recruiters and are waiting to go to various Gulf countries.”

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 Gangadhar Munda’s brother Boodhu Munda — a Gurukul alumnus — works in Dubai.

The tribesman from Hesu said the “entire village”, in Hesu hills, was proud of his brother who went abroad “and secured a good future despite belonging to a poor family and being a school dropout”.

“Boodhu went to Dubai around seven months ago. He sends us money every month. Our financial status is getting better now and we are be able to educate other children in the family,” Gangadhar told IANS.

“We are getting good marriage proposals for Boodhu,” Gangadhar quipped.

Tarun Shukla, an IIT alumnus and a member of PARFI, said the first Gurukul was opened at Gumla in Jharkhand in 2010 to involve unemployed youth, who were potential recruits for Maoists.

“The infrastructure and other support for Gurukul are given by the government while its operation and maintenance are done through PARFI. We have a tie-up with business conglomerate Shapoorji Pallonji Group to place students in the Gulf countries,” Shukla told IANS.

He said more focus was now being given on skill development with the help of a separate Ministry for Skill Development and NSDC.

“NSDC plays a significant role in the functioning of Gurukul as it standardises the course curriculum. Secondly, with NSDC, one can now find employers, trainers, content developers and job-seekers on one platform,” he said.

Jharkhand Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma said the Gurukul model was providing the platform of better employability for under-privileged and under-educated youth of the state.

“In the next two years, we are planning to expand these Gurukul centres in all the 24 Jharkhand districts with a training capacity of 10,000 youth,” Verma told IANS.

She said generating employment was a huge priority of the state government.

“Labour-intensive industries like food processing, leather and textiles are our main focus; we will use the Jharkhand Skill Development Mission and Gurukul model to create youth who are pre-trained before employment,” she said. (IANS)

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