Posts filed under ‘Poverty politics’

How a 75-year-old tribal man grew a forest in Kalahandi

Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Forest officials say the work by Majhi and local tribals in Kalahandi is an important step in guarding the forest resources.

The septuagenarian Kondh tribal from Kalahandi’s Boringpadar village may not have studied much, but has brought cheer and hope to a place where death is an annual feature.

In 1979, Majhi started planting sapling on the 97 acre barren land adjoining a hillock near his village with support from the Nehru Yuva Kendra. Villagers who used to grow millet on that land had no idea what Majhi was up to, but grudgingly came around to support him for next three years.

Some 35 years later, the 97 acres of once-barren land near his village is home to a luxuriant forest consisting of Sal, Teak, Acacia, Chakunda and several other timber and fruit-bearing trees. In the process, he showed the ability of free Indians to battle the most adverse of circumstances, and the transformation that takes place when society and state collaborate.

Epicentre of starvation

Kalahandi in the 60s was known as Ethiopia of India for its acute starvation triggered by long periods of drought. After a particularly protracted spell of drought in 70s and 80s that forced poor parents to sell their children, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited the region. While its forested landscape was being slowly eroded by timber smugglers who valued the rich Kalahandi teak, the shifting cultivation of tribals took its toll on the forest cover

“When I was young I came to realise that without rains we would not have any hope. My father told me that the only way we can have regular rains is through forests,” said Majhi. This was the time when a young Majhi got serious about ways to prevent drought.

An old picture showing Manjhi and others planting saplings (HT photo)

 

With some handholding by local forest officials and help from Nehru Yuva Kendra in Bhawanipatna, Majhi and his elder brother Bali through Boringpadar Yuvak Sangha started planting saplings on the barren land, that was recorded as forest in government files. Soon the rest of the villagers joined in. The remunerations were not great – all that the villagers got was a sack of potatoes and two sacks of rice.

“At times when people were not willing to go for planting, I used to mortgage my umbrella and utensils at home to pay people and a security guard to keep an eye on the saplings,” said Majhi, standing next to a sal tree which he planted. Tejiraj Pradhan, a young farmer, still remembers how he used to plant saplings with Kartik mausa.

The transformation

Ten years later as the saplings grew in length, the once-barren area sported a different look. “It was like seeing a desert bloom,” said Majhi’s friend Kirtan Majhi.

Impressed with his work in creating a forest out of a barren land, the forest department in late 90s entrusted Boringpadar Yuvak Sangh the task of looking after the 500 hectares of reserve forest near his village. The villagers also keep an eye on another 500 hectares of forest near the hills adjacent to the village.

Forest officials say the work by Majhi and local tribals in Kalahandi is an important step in guarding the forest resources.

“Creating a forest and guarding can never be done by the forest department if individuals like Majhi are not involved. A forest guard is supposed to guard an area of 20-25 km. Is it possible on his part to keep an eye on so large an area,” asked Suresh Pant, regional chief conservator of forests of Bhawanipatna.

Preserving the legacy

Despite efforts by Majhi, old-timers of the district are not so hopeful of seeing the luxuriant forest cover of mid-80s when 50% of its geographical area was under forest cover. The last Forest Survey of India published in 2015, put the forest cover at 30%. “The success of people like Majhi is important, but it’s very difficult to get back what we lost,” said former Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das.

Now 75, Majhi can’t walk properly and has problems in his sight. But his son Shankar seems to have inherited his father’s legacy as he goes to the forest with his friends to keep an eye on anyone cutting forests. This year a dozen villagers entered the reserve forest area and tried to cut the trees. They were promptly fined Rs 6,000 by the Yuvak Sangh volunteers.

Majhi says forests are intrinsic to the well-being of tribals. “We can’t always travel to the hospital in Narla block, which is 15 km away. If we suffer from malaria, we take crushed leaves of Nyctanthes, black pepper mixed with honey. The forests give us everything. Jungle is mangal for us,” said Majhi.

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August 14, 2017 at 10:02 am Leave a comment

What can be done for Odisha’s abject poverty?

We have received the following e-book from Dr Saheb Sahu, USA

What can be done for Odisha’s abject poverty? Please click here to download the E-book.

January 27, 2016 at 8:30 am 1 comment

Poverty and politics by a royal family in Balangir

January 24, 2016 at 6:55 am 1 comment

A damning Indictment of Odisha’s inefficiency

Following report is from the TNIE:

The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 has in one stroke not only demolished Odisha’s growth story spun by the Naveen Patnaik government over the past one-and-a-half decade but also laid bare an embarrassing failure of its much-vaunted welfare and poverty alleviation schemes. It cannot be a more damning indictment of the inefficiency than the fact that more than 66 per cent of the population in rural Odisha still continues to languish in acute deprivation without access to basic needs such as food, housing or income generation means. The findings of the census has countered and exposed the hollowness of the government’s claims at every point.

While the State Finance Minister  painted a glowing picture of the socio-economic rise over the last decade, projecting a growth of eight per cent in 2015-16, the census report has presented a worrying scene. Over 46.6 lakh (54 per cent) of the total 86.22 lakh rural households are landless and 23 lakh households have only one room with kutcha roof to shelter whole families. A whopping 87 per cent households manage with a measly income of less than Rs 5,000 a month. In the face of the Government’s claims that poverty has been reduced by almost 25 per cent and socio-economic conditions for a vast chunk of the population have been improved, Odisha has been ranked among the top four states in the country in terms of beggary with over 54,000 households depending on it while as many as 22,353 households resort to rag-picking and rummaging garbage dumps for their livelihood. Further, almost 59 per cent of the total households are engaged in manual and casual labour.

The census practically serves as a report card on the schemes and measures implemented by the government, revealing their failings and fissures. Despite the flagship Rs 1-a-kilo rice scheme, claimed to cover over 58 lakh households, and programmes for housing, irrigation, farm assistance, skill development and employment generation, the poverty and deprivation situation has not improved as much. The government should re-examine the schemes to reach the beneficiaries at every level and draw up strategies for more focused implementation of poverty alleviation and development programmes.

July 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Poverty in the KBK (Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) region of Odisha and government grants

Following report is from the Sambad:

June 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Hunger in Nuapada

Following report is from the Sambad:

April 26, 2012 at 11:52 am 1 comment

Why KBK (Kalahandi Balangir Koraput) region should be made a Union Territory

Following discussions happened in orissatoday@googlegroups.com, westernodisha@googlegroups.com and other e-groups

Dear All,

The Odisha Government had  appealed to the Centre for sanctioning a Special package of Rs.4500 Crores for the development Projects in undivided KBK Districts,  by far the most backward region of the Country. As was expected, the Centre  ignored   Odisha’s appeal.

Whereas Mamata Bannejee had  recently submitted a request for sanctioning special assistance of Rs.21,600 Crores  to Bengal, to bail out the State  from financial crisis and the Centre ( courtesy Pranab Mukherjee ) promptly sanctioned the same.

Please read the details from the appended Article published in the Pioneer, dated the 8th August’11.

 Such step motherly attitude of the UPA Government at the Centre is not only shocking but also condemnable. Such discriminatory treatment towards Odisha clearly reflects that the present Government in Delhi does not consider Odisha as a part of the Nation and it has to fend for itself. If that is so, then why should State supply Coal andIronOre to other States  with a paltry sum of Royalty ??  Let the State be allowed to  charge the International Market Price to all Consumers outside the State and  to those Consumers ( in Odisha )  supplying  Power to other States. Let the State control all Mines and Minerals of the State  and generate resources to  meet State’s financial needs.

 This is a serious matter and all Intellectuals of the State should  react to UPA’s ( more appropriately  the Congress Party’s ) step motherly attitude towards Odisha.

WB gets Rs 21,614 cr Central package, Odisha plea for Rs 4,500 cr ignored

August 08, 2011 1:10:18 AM, PNS | Bhubaneswar

The Centre has granted a package of Rs 21,614 crore to West Bengal, which included Rs 9,240 crore in grant in aid, to tide over its acute financial crisis. “We have received a fax message which says that the Centre has given us an allowance, not a package, of Rs 21,614 crore,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata.

Mamata could manage to get the Central assistance barely some months after assuming office at the Writers Building. On the other hand, Odisha’s 11 year old BJD Government headed by Naveen Patnaik, however, have spent all its energies in persuading the Planning Commission as well as the Centre to release a special package worth only Rs 4,500 crore for Special Plan for backward Kalahandi Bolangir Koraput(KBK) region.

For last three years Odisha Government is asking the Union Government to provide the much needed grant of Rs 4,500 crore for KBK region, which is the poorest zone of the country. Chief Minister Patnaik has written half a dozen letters to Prime Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission urging them for the support.

Minister Planning and Coordination A U Singh Deo has approached Montek Singh Ahluwalia several times in this regard. And BJD MP from Balangir Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo has also met the Members of Planning Commission to impress them for the support time and again. But nothing has happened so far. How and why West Bengal got the assistance and not Odisha. The statement issued by Banerjee explains how the Trinamool Congress led Government could get the assistance Mamata said, “Though I am not fully satisfied, I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Union Finance Minister. I know they will have to follow rules.

Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee from West Bengal came to the rescue of the State Government. It is not that Pranab Mukherjee helped Mamata as his party is in coalition with the Congress. The Union Minister Finance had arranged special funds for West Bengal when left front was in power also. Contrary to Pranab’s inclination towards Bengal, a senior Congress leader from Odisha urged the Prime Minister not to grant funds under Special KBK Plan to the State as the BJD Government misutilises public money.

Jibanendra Mahanty 
E-mail: jnm22@hotmail.com
—-

Centre should nt grant money to this useless GOVt, see the past record, KBK money always remain un utilised by Odisha, once vajpayee sanctioned 1500 crore, the useless buggers at the helm of the affair could spend only some 361 crores, rest were returned…Odia  politicians and officers cant improve odisha, there no will…even the attitude of voters also not progressive…In spite of political stability and absence of opposition for last 12 years,what is the big thing the state has achieved??Only in papers we have recvd FDI…not a single project is absolutely through…people have been made lazy with 2 rupees rice, u wont get workers in villages now ,they dont want to work 30 days…well centre ‘s attitude is always like that …right from British India days…soila puara bhaga nahin…dpm

 Durga Misra
Email: durga_misra@sify.com

—-

Problem with Nabin is that he himself has failed to dictate terms when he was in a similar position as that of Mamta is to day. The crocodile was holding the key portfolios of both Steel as well as Mines minister but he totally failed to do justice to rectify anti people mining policy but now sheds tears that center is not listening to him. The failed coward now blames others.

We talk of special packages, but if we look at the records of utilisation of funds, we find a sorry state of affairs. When the already allocated funds are not utilized, with what face Nabina can dare to ask for special package? KBK is in dire state, situation has not improved despite spending crores of rupees, CBI inquiry is already on in the huge NREGA corruption worth over Rs. 550 Crore, Corruption in almost all the developmental works is the Mantra to govern the state, and if the special package even if it comes by the grace of Lord Jagganath ( even thy land is also sold by greedy Nabina to eagle eyed Anil Agarwal of Vedanta).

I agree with Durga Prasad Mishra ji and would like to add that we can not expect to bring in a change for the better till this bugger is in charge of the state. He will sell each and every inch of land of the farmers and tribals before flee back to USA from where he has come. Puppet in the hand of Pyari can not do any good to the people of the state.

Pravin Patel 
Email: tribalwelfare@gmail.com

—-

Friends,

-Just asking grant from the center is not enough. The Odisha govt. must give details of the previous expenditure on KBK.

-Despite so many central grants why the KBK is in a sorry state? It is because the state govt. has failed to implement the grants and mismanaged the money.

-Many of the central grants are returning to the centre as the Odisha govt. is unable to spend the money.

In this situation, the KBK area should be declared as a union territory. There is no pointing in asking packages after packages and swallowing all the money meant for poor people.

Best regards,

Sanjib
E-mail: sanjibkarmee@gmail.com

—-

Dear all,

Why it is a surprise that Center did not agree to spend any more money for KBK ? Orissa has been getting money for KBK but it has nothing to show. Often some money has been spent haphazardly or money has been directed somewhere else or the money was sent back unused or may be it vanished into deep pockets of somebody. It has become a popular thing to do in Orissa to beg on bended knee from the center and when the center does not give any money for nonproductive purpose, Orissans cry
foul.Does KBK deserve to be given money ? Of course it does but not the way money is asked for nor the way it used or abused. The typical way has been: Let us ask for some money, and if and when money is obtained , then we will think of some projects ! So when money is obtained, lousy projects are undertaken in a hurried way by lousy
administrators in a short time wth any time left over after thinking about the projects . In addition, when even specifically some projects are assigned by the center for KBK, they are whisked away to some where else. Only recently Mamata, when she was Railway ministe,announced that Kalahandi would be location of wagon factory, but it
was whisked away somewhere else ! So it seems KBK all along has been used for getting resources from the center, but when resources are obtained, nothing is really done for Kalahandi. The situation is similar to what happens to beggars in big cities in India. There are Mafia organisations who control begging trade. Deformed beggars are recruited by these Mafia groups     and are placed in touristy places where thse beggars get money from compassionate folks. But at the end of the day, Mafia bosses collect the money leaving a small portions for the beggars. So Orissa government has been acting as dalal for Kalahandi and the center is not willing to be conned into such
schemes.

Kalahandi is simply not on the radar of Orissa government, which simply sheds crocodile tears. It is not that Orissa does not know how to launch good program where it focusses its mind on it. Just click this link to see the news of programmed up grading of Cuttack and viccinity as reported in Sambad today. But then KBK is no where near BBSR, where people  think that folks in KBK are just pseudo citizens
of Orissa !

http://www.orissasambad.com/news_article.php?id=60635

I think, KBK desreves to be given urgent priority for upgrading by the center as well as the state but the developmental work should be undertaken directly by the central government in a planned and determined way.The central government has a good record in doing developmental works in Union territories.Just look at all the centrally administered territories ! If they could do it in Andaman and Nicober, they certainly can do it in KBK. If the Orissa government can not do the job, it should admit it, and ask the center to take over the implementaion of projects. If Chidambaram was asked to tackle the Naxal problem by requesting  armed forces because Orissa government could not control the problem, he could be asked for transforming KBK in to a viable place. It will be good for KBK as well as good for Orissa. And certainly it will be a better model to counteract the Naxal menace.

Arjun Purohit
Email: apurohit1934@gmail.com

—-

If we need real development of KBK, it should be declared as Union territory , SEZ must be created for  electronics/ software industriespharma industries  ,  where water consumption and pollution is ZERO, Look at BADDI in HP, 700 pharma companies came up and change the living condition of people and the same thing haapened with Uttarakhand. Before declaration of SEZ the conditions of these people were much better than that of ORISSA …yet the steps taken by GOVT really changed the fate of people,,
As Mr Purohit says that KBK is used to get money from centre and for looting only…is right…politicians including KBK politicians,who are bunch of useless jokers and have no sympathy for the people who voted  them and never raise their voice for the people including Bhakta,who has hardly done anything for the poor…all r enjoying power and the people of KBK are so docile and spineless that they hardly raise their voice…against the injustice done to them by their voted KBK leaders…This is the irony…

Health wise so poor that they cant go fora bloddy revolution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Durga Misra
Email: durga_misra@sify.com

—-

There are lessons to be learnt fromSikkimtoo. A series of dams to be constructed for hydro power generations were scrapped by the strong protests of the people. Here Nabin has gone mad to acquire land even at the cost of grossly misusing the police force for POSCO.

NowSikkimhas almost all the big pharmacy companies having established medicine manufacturing plants with huge investment since there is zero pollution and suitable climatic conditions.

Here in KBK also there is near zero pollution in the areas where there are no Vedanta type culprits. State actors should avoid polluting industries in KBK and other areas too by devising special packages for zero polluting industries and invite them to make investments that will be good for the people as well as earn revenue for the state unlike the eagle eyed looters of mineral wealth who have no love for the poor people of the area. Ask for a special incentive like that of exemption from payment of income tax and other sops that too for a limited period. Only problem for the gangsters in power is that they may not get any kick back the way they are believed to be paid by the mineral looters who ink MoUs for getting iron ore or bauxite etc.

Pravin Patel 
Email: tribalwelfare@gmail.com

—-

This is what Orissa govt. is doing towards western Orissa, KBK and tribal belt:http://wp.me/pFC4h-Xv

Best regards,

Sanjib
Email: sanjibkarmee@gmail.com 

August 11, 2011 at 8:24 am 9 comments

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