Posts filed under ‘Starvation’
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.
Lalit Bhoi of Badbanki village in Turekela block in the district has decided to migrate in search of job as he is not able to get work even after applying for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). Similarly, Surdas Pradhan of Bijamal village in Muribahal block feels that he would migrate if he would not be able to get work under the flagship scheme soon.
Bhoi and Pradhan are not solitary instances of poverty stricken people unable to get the benefits of MGNREGS. In fact, the MGNREGS, aimed at providing employment to rural poor, has miserably failed in the district.
According to sources, 2,72,527 households in the district have been issued job cards. Out of them, 61,339 households applied for works in 2013-14 and 47,393 households have been provided work till now.
While in the present month, 5,904 households are engaged in work, 2,086 households have completed 100 days of work. Among those who completed 100 days of work, 463 households were linked to the housing schemes like Indira Awaas Yojana. According to latest estimate, about 68.2 per cent of the budget for the scheme has been spent till now including labour payment and construction work.
The major road blocks in implementation of MNREGS are non-payment and delayed payment of wages to the labourers and shortage of field staff for preparation of muster rolls. Sources said people are not getting work during lean period. They also alleged that the officials were providing work as per their whims and caprices.
As per a conservative estimate, more than one lakh people have migrated in search of livelihood from the district to other places in and outside the State. The district has also more than 1,000 certified bonded labourers.
According to a survey of Western Odisha Migration Network (WOMN), a network of civil society organisations and academicians working in the district, more than 80,000 people from Bangomunda, Turekela, Belpara, Muribahal, Saintala and Khaprakhol blocks have already migrated.
“Balangir is a poor and migration prone district. MGNREGS has all the ingredients to address labour migration due to acute poverty and unemployment. However, to realise the same, the administration needs to identify the vulnerable people and implement MGNREGS during the lean period. But it has failed to provide timely works as well as the payments,” said Jatin Kumar Patra, an activist working on the issue.
Project Director of Balangir DRDA Pabitra Mandal said the administration is taking steps to provide work in all the revenue villages. “We are preparing plans and very soon the works will start,” he said.
Following report is from the Sambad:
PATNAGARH: Starvation has reportedly claimed two more lives in western Odisha. In a span of 13 hours, two deaths were reported in a family in Sargimunda village in Kandhenjhula gram panchayat of Belpada block in Balangir district. The two have been identified as Bishnu Majhi (42) and his 37-year-old wife Parbati. Bishnu was a migrant labourer. He had planned to migrate this year too but with Parbati taking ill, he had to cancel the plan.
While the five-member family comprising the couple and their three sons Katha (17), Tikelal (14) and Laba (9) had no other source of income, their eldest son Katha availed of a loan of ` 10,000 from a labour ‘sardar’ for treatment of his mother before leaving for Andhra Pradesh to work in a brick kiln.
But the loan money was not enough for treatment of Parbati and maintenance of the family. Sans food and treatment, Parbati died on December 8.
The following day, immediately after Bishnu completed Parbati’s final rites, he complained of illness and had to be admitted to the Patnagarh sub-divisional hospital. He breathed his last on December 9 night.
Villagers said that the couple were not keeping well for a long time due to malnutrition. The family has reportedly not received any BPL rice for the last three months.
The Belpada tehsildar Abhimanyu Majhi met the couple’s children on Tuesday to find out if they are covered under any social security measures.
DEOGARH: Starvation reportedly claimed another life in western Odisha. Close on the heels of death of three persons due to starvation in Kuliadangri village in Nuapada district, Jatra Khilar (60) of San Dangaghat village under Reamal block of Deogarh died of starvation on Sunday morning.
The incident came to light after Jatra’s son Prasanna Khilar lodged a complaint in Reamal police station about the death of his father due to starvation.As per reports, Jatra was residing in the village along with his wife Chandri for the last 17 years while their only son Prasanna was residing in their ancestral village at Pendrakhol under the same gram panchayat.The elderly couple were residing in a makeshift shed after their house was destroyed during the last monsoon and eking out a living by begging. They were allegedly deprived of old age pension and other government benefits.
Sources said even as they ran from pillar to post to get financial assistance, it yielded no response. However, assistant engineer of Reamal block Bhramarbar Samal said the death was due to prolonged illness and not starvation.Police have sent the body for autopsy.
Following is a report from the Sambad (Sambalpur edition):
No effect of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) on Balangir migration
Of the 72 students of Budhamunda Village Primary School in Belpada block, just half line up for morning prayers in their crumpled, unwashed uniform.
What about the rest?
“Many of my friends have migrated with their parents to work in brick kilns. I will also follow them in a few days,” said Dipakanta Pradhan (10), a student of class 3.
The scene was the same at an anganwadi (mother and child) centre in Tentulimunda village in the same block, more than 400 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, where just eight out of 25 children wait for their food to be served.
About 200 out of the 247 families in Tentulimunda migrated to work in brick kilns in Andhra Pradesh last year. This year, villagers said more would follow because of acute drought in the region and no sign of government-sponsored programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).
Surveys by Western Orissa Migration Network (WOMN), a consortium of voluntary organisations, have revealed more than 150,000 people from Balangir migrate every year to work in brick kilns and construction sites of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. At least 45,000 of them are in the age group 1-14, and a majority of them do jobs specially designed for them in the kilns.
Talking to HT, Orissa women and child development minister Anjali Behera said she would ask the collector and SP of the district to ensure that neither the parents nor the children migrated.
“I will look into the matter seriously,” Behera said.
Balangir collector SN Dey said he was not aware of anybody migrating from the district so far. “We have told the people to wait for the poverty line survey, which will start soon. Programmes like mid-day meal (MDM), the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and MGNREGS are going on smoothly in the district,” he said.
Tentulimunda looks barren. Farmers have left many unharvested paddy fields for their cattle to graze because there is no point harvesting them.
According to the agriculture department figures, in most areas up 75% of the crop has been damaged due to severe drought.
“We have no option to migrate,” said Abhimanyu Bag (40).
What about the MGNREGS? They are few and far between, he said.
Last year, there were just two works. However, people prefer not to work in them. “Payment is very late. It takes five months to get your dues,” he said.
In Balangir, the CBI is probing irregularities in the MGNREGS in response to a Supreme Court order.
The migration of families, along with the children, defeats the purpose of central government-funded programmes like MDM and the ICDS in Balangir, ranked as one of the country’s most backward districts.
The allocation for MDM and the ICDS in 2010-11 in the district was more than R30 crore.
According to the 2001 census, Balangir has a population of more than 1.3 million, of whom more than 261,000 are covered under MDM and another 200,000 under the ICDS.
The 2011 census says Balangir has a provisional population of more than 1.6 million.
However, the figures of children covered under MDM and the ICDS stand unchanged.
Anganwadi workers maintain migration notebooks for listing the migrant families.
Teachers too usually mark migrant children absent. However, they complain most often their superiors put pressure on them not to do so because that would reflect the failure of MDM.
“So we strike a balance. If 50 students migrate, we list 20 just to save our jobs,” said a teacher on anonymity.