You Reported
How Nehru’s Panchsheel ruined Adivasis?

The India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nerhu, who is also known as the architect of modern India, once said, "Dams are the temples of modern India." According to him, the big dams would address the issues of hunger and poverty of India. Unfortunately, the big dams only created pains, sufferings and sorrows to the owners (mostly the Adivasis; the indigenous people of India) of the lands, which submerged into the temples of modern India. Similarly, the big industries like Heavy Engineering Corporation, Bokaro Steel Limited, steel companies, coal mining and other mining industries created only misery for the Adivasis. Consequently, the Adivasis became landless, daily wage labourers and servants of the bigwigs after losing their land, forest, water and other livelihood resources.


Ironically, the architect of modern India did not create space for the Adivasis in their own modern country. He only inspired them to add more sufferings in their lives for the sake of national interest, saying, "If you are to suffer, you must suffer in the interest of the country." Perhaps, the Adivasis never know what it means by the national interest because they are the people who have always suffered for the national interest but they never enjoyed the fruits of the national interest, they were also not given place in the India history and not even memorized in the holy land of martyrs in the national capital. Needless to say, the architect of modern India did not even bother to count the people who have suffered in the interest of the country, which counts nearly 50 million, who have sacrificed everything for the national interest. Among them 40 percent are Adivasis, 20 percent are Dalits and rest 40 percent are the people of other backward classes. Indeed, the elites never suffer for the national interest as they are born only to enjoy their lives and of course the country protects them in every possible manner.


However, when the issues of the Adivasis are discussed, Nehru is always remembered for his 'Panchsheel for tribal development', which is also called the five pillars of the tribal development. But does his panchsheel work for the Adivasis? Of course, it doesn't. In fact, Nehru himself went against of the principles of Panchsheel and so the Congress party and other Indian rulers. The history suggests that some policies were made only to close the Adivasis tongues. According to Vincent Ekka of the Indian Social Institute, whenever the Adivasis protest against unjust policies of the state, they are given some rights on paper to keep them silent like the barking dogs are treated. Obviously, Nehru's Panchsheel is the best in principle but the worst in practice as it was made for keeping silent to the barking dogs.


1. Non-imposition: The first pillar of Panchsheel says that the Adivasis should be allowed to progress according to their own pace and understanding of the situation. In principle, it seems to be very good but practically, the Indian government went against of it. The most important question is, how can you ask to the Adivasis to go with their pace and understanding if you snatch their livelihood resources in the name of the national interest and also do not provide them any support? The idea of Nehru was just like a day dreaming. The fact is the Adivasis' indigenous method of development was never counted by people of the mainstream of the society and the corporate development model was imposed on them instead. The Indian rulers never walk on their talk for the Adivasis. In the last 6 decades, many policies were made, which displaced, dispossessed and deprived the Adivasis from their livelihood resources but rehabilitation was never a concern for the Indian government at all but of course, they were much concerned for the corporate houses.


2. Respect of tribal customs: The second pillar of Panchsheel also did not work because the Adivasi tradition, culture and customs were never accepted by the Aryan invaders. Only the folk songs and dances of the Adivasis were romanticized in some extent but the tradition, culture and ethos, which are based on community living, equality for all and need based economy were always neglected, depicted as the worst and destroyed in many ways. Similarly, the religion of Adivasis was not recognized by the Indian constitution though many other religions emerged much later in India got recognition in the constitution. As a result, thousands of the Adivasis accepted other religions, religious enmity was created among them and thousands of their sacred groves were destroyed in the name of 'development'. Where is the principle of Panchsheel buried?


3. Development of tribal youth: The third pillar speaks about the leadership of the Adivasis. But the fact of the matter is the Adivasi leadership is not acceptable to the so-called people of the mainstream of the Indian society. The history proves that the Adivasis legend Baba Tilka Manjhi was the first man to fight against the Britishers in 1780 and hanged subsequently but he was not recognized by historians of the mainstream. Similarly, the other Adivasis leaders - Sidho-Kanhu, Birsa Munda, Fulo-Jhano, Nilambar-Pitambar and many others fought against the British government but they were not given space in the India history as they deserved to. Therefore, the Nehru's third pillar doesn't make any sense to the Adivasis. As far as the Adivasis are concerned, they have always groomed, inspired and promoted the youth leadership in their community.


 4. Simplicity of Administration: The fourth Pillar of Panchsheel seems to be very well idea as the Adivasis' strong traditional self governance system exists even today, which the Britishers did not able to destroy and finally they accepted it and made laws for its protection and promotion. Ironically, the rulers of modern India including Nehru did not accept the Adivasis' TSG. Instead, he preferred the voluntary agencies for carrying out the development works in the Adivasi regions. The Adivasis' traditional self governance was not accepted precisely because it was a biggest threat to the authorities of Indian rulers. Though the Indian constitution has some provisions for the Adivasis regions as 5th and 6th schedules but there was no attempt made for strengthening of the traditional self governance of the Adivasis. In fact, the Indian rulers wanted the Adivasis regions under their control therefore they imposed numbers of legislations – forest Acts, Laws in the name of the protection of wild life, Land related laws, mining Acts and civil as well as criminal laws. Finally, they captured the natural resources of these regions and exploited it as much as they could.


5. Emphasis on human growth: The fifth pillar of Panchsheel emphasizes on human growth in term of the living standards, which is really appreciable. But as far as the Adivasis are concerned, they are not accepted as human being in India even today. They are always portrayed as uncivilized, sub-human, demons, forest-dwellers and mindless people. The Aryans invaders never treat the Adivasis as equal human beings. The Adivasis are always racially discriminated, exploited and dispossessed. The question is if you take away the livelihood resources of Adivasis without providing them alternatives, discriminated them and treat like sub-human then how can you expect their human growth? The Adivasis regions lack education, health facilities, drinking water, sanitation and shelter even today due to the deliberate inhuman treatment of the Indian rulers with the Adivasis.


Undoubtedly, Nehru is the architect of modern India, but it is also the fact that his modern temples of India, industrialization process and corporate model of development are the main reasons of the Adivasis' pains, sufferings and sorrows. Indeed, he is the architect of the Adivasis' misery. Today, millions of the Adivasis are struggling for their survival, which credit goes to Nehru and his Congress Party. Later on, the right wing and the left wing also added salt on the wounds. Therefore, now we (the Adivasis) must realize that no one can fight for us but we have to fight for ourselves. If we protect our natural resources today, we would be ensuring a better future for our children tomorrow. Before, we go for another movement against displacement, we must pray to our super natural God for not to forgive Nehru because he knew what he did for us. He created misery for us, he ensured that we must suffer and he turned our heaven into hell. His temples of modern India dispossessed us, his temples of modern India exploited us and his temples of modern India created graves for us. 


Gladson Dungdung

Divine intervention to safeguard Adivasi lands

After innumerable demonstrations and rallies, tribals have now decided to seek divine intervention to safeguard their lands. They are now turning Durga Puja pandals into a platform to protest against land acquisition.


Accordingly, Bisthapan Virodhi Nava Nirman Sangharsh Morcha, the outfit that has been spearheading the agitation against land acquisition, has printed over 70,000 pamphlets and posters to create awareness among farmers. The posters will be distributed in pandals at Gumla, Godda, Hazaribagh and Dumka, though districts falling under Singhbhum-Kolhan region will be the main focus.


Kumar Chandra Mardi, a spokesperson of the morcha, said that although Durga Puja was not the traditional puja of the tribals, the grand festival is organised in many localities having a sizeable number of tribals. And local inhabitants visit Puja pandals in the villages as well as the city suburbs, or attend village fairs, at this festive time. "So, we decided to take advantage of the occasion," Mardi said, adding that they have printed 50,000 pamphlets and 20,000 posters to be distributed in pandals in peripheral areas of the city and at village fairs.


Mardi said the morcha, which is an alliance of 37 anti-land acquisition outfits active across the state, had decided on August 24 to intensify protests against land acquisition by industrial houses in the mineral-rich state. The decision to resort to poster and pamphlet campaigns at pandals during Durga Puja was part of the protest.


"Through the posters we have tried to make the villagers understand that selling their ancestral land to industrial houses will not be in the interest of villagers," he said.


September 27 / telegraph

Adivasi Communities in India: Development and Change
Text of the Vice President's inaugural address to Seminar on Adivasi Communities in India

The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the reality is unpalatable and the data speaks for itself. Compared to other sections of our society, the tribal population has the lowest Human Development Index. Delivering inaugural address at the International Seminar on "Adivasi/ST Communities in India: Development and Change" organized by the Institute for Human Development here today, he said that the literacy rate of the Schedule Tribes (STs) at 47.1 in the 2001 Census is far below the national literacy rate of 64.84. Tribal children suffer from high drop out rates and low female literacy. They also have high infant mortality rates and malnutrition as compared to other population groups.


He expressed his concern that STs suffer from geographical and social exclusion, high poverty rates and lack of access to appropriate administrative and judicial mechanisms. Low level of infra-structural endowments and growing gap in infrastructure creation in tribal areas, as compared to the rest of India, has further diminished prospects for progress. For the 85 million Scheduled Tribes in India, the struggle to retain their identities and seek empowerment through our Constitutional framework has not yielded commensurate outcomes.


The Vice President opined that the Forest Rights Act of 2006 represents an important step in attempting to reverse the marginalisation of our tribal people. It gives legislative teeth to the Constitutional provisions for protection and development of Scheduled Tribes, provides them a level playing field and casts tribal rights in a new matrix based on community control and customary access. It acknowledges the immense hardship caused to the Scheduled Tribes due to insecurity of tenurial and access rights and forced relocation due to State development interventions. Quick implementation of the provisions of this Act by various State Governments would go a long way in realising the vision of our Founding Fathers and ensuring that economic development and social progress is inclusive.


Following is the text of the Vice President's inaugural address:


"It gives me great pleasure to inaugurate this international seminar organised by the Institute for Human Development. The choice of the theme is appropriate. It covers a range of issues of local, national and global importance relating to the well-being of Adivasi communities in India.


A look at recent history provides a perspective. The political, social and cultural heterogeneity of India was amply reflected in the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly. The Objectives Resolution was tabled by Jawaharlal Nehru in December 1946. It sought to secure social, economic and political justice, equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law to all the people and promised adequate safeguards for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes. The contours of the debate were quantified by Jaipal Singh of Chotanagpur who, speaking on behalf of, as he put it, "millions of unknown hordes… unrecognised warriors of freedom, the original people of India who have variously been known as backward tribes, primitive tribes, criminal tribes and everything else", supported the Resolution.


Jaipal Singh also gave vent to long standing grievances and articulated the problem candidly:


"If there is any group of Indian people that has been shabbily treated it is my people. They have been disgracefully treated, neglected for the last 6,000 years. This Resolution is not going to teach Adibasis democracy. You cannot teach democracy to the tribal people; you have to learn democratic ways from them. They are the most democratic people on earth. What my people require is not adequate safeguards… We do not ask for any special protection. We want to be treated like every other Indian….The whole history of my people is one of continuous exploitation and dispossession by the non-aboriginals of India punctuated by rebellions and disorder, and yet I take Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru at his word. I take you all at your word that now we are going to start a new chapter, a new chapter of Independent India where there is equality of opportunity, where no one would be neglected."


Six decades later, a few questions need to be answered:


1. Has the experience of six decades been different from that of the earlier millennia and have Adivasis been treated with greater attention and justice?


2. Have Adivasis been afforded the equality of opportunity?


The reality is unpalatable and the data speaks for itself. Compared to other sections of our society, the tribal population has the lowest Human Development Index. The literacy rate of the STs at 47.1 in the 2001 Census is far below the national literacy rate of 64.84. Tribal children suffer from high drop out rates and low female literacy. They also have high infant mortality rates and malnutrition as compared to other population groups. They suffer from geographical and social exclusion, high poverty rates and lack of access to appropriate administrative and judicial mechanisms. Low level of infrastructural endowments and growing gap in infrastructure creation in tribal areas, as compared to the rest of India, has further diminished prospects for progress.


For the 85 million Scheduled Tribes in India, the struggle to retain their identities and seek empowerment through our Constitutional framework has not yielded commensurate outcomes. I therefore wish to highlight a few points for the consideration of this audience:


First, over 80 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes population works in the primary sector, with 45 per cent of them being cultivators and 37 per cent being agricultural labourers. Land thus represents the most important source of livelihood, emotional attachment and social stability in tribal communities. It is critical for cultivation horticulture, forestry and animal husbandry. The Draft National Tribal Policy testifies to it and notes that "alienation of tribal land is the single most important cause of pauperisation of tribals, rendering their vulnerable economic situation more precarious."


The Forest Rights Act of 2006 represents an important step in attempting to reverse the marginalisation of our tribal people. It gives legislative teeth to the Constitutional provisions for protection and development of Scheduled Tribes, provides them a level playing field and casts tribal rights in a new matrix based on community control and customary access. It acknowledges the immense hardship caused to the Scheduled Tribes due to insecurity of tenurial and access rights and forced relocation due to State development interventions. Quick implementation of the provisions of this Act by various State Governments would go a long way in realising the vision of our Founding Fathers and ensuring that economic development and social progress is inclusive.


Second, the Constitution of India provides specific social, economic and political guarantees to the Scheduled Tribes. In the social dimension, these are covered under Articles 14, 15(4), 16(4), 16(4 A), 338 (A) and 339 (1). The economic provisions are covered under Article 46, 275(1) and 335. The political provisions are very elaborate and are spelt out in Article 244 and 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution, as also in Articles 330, 332, and 243 (D).


The extent to which the Constitutional provisions have been implemented and the normative guarantees translated into policy are a matter of ongoing debate. Civil society groups and activists have pointed out the manner in which the application of the Indian Forest Act 1927 and The Land Acquisition Act 1894 has caused marginalisation and hardship to the Adivasis. They also note that 5th Schedule provisions to prevent application of such laws to Scheduled Areas had not been invoked.


Third, in comparison to other disadvantaged communities and groups, the Adivasis have been less effective in constituting themselves as a Pan-Indian interest group and in articulating their grievances through the formal political system. This could partly be attributed to lack of national homogeneity in the context and mechanisms that have led to the exclusion and oppression of the Adivasis. Geographical dispersion of the Adivasis and lack of iconic leadership with a national appeal also prevents effective political mobilisation. To a lesser extent, our education system and our media are also to blame for the lower profile accorded to the predicament of Indian tribes.


Fourth, the development paradigm of independent India has led to, in the words of the Draft National Tribal Policy, tribal communities witnessing "their habitats and homelands fragmented, their cultures disrupted, their communities shattered, the monetary compensation which tribal communities are not equipped to handle slipping out of their hands, turning them from owners of the resources and well-knit contented communities to individual wage earners in the urban conglomerates with uncertain futures and threatened existence".


Across the nation gigantic industrial, power, irrigation and mining projects representing the current development paradigm of independent Adivasi protests against land acquisition and displacement. Aligning our development needs with Adivasi rights and enhancing their Human Development Index is the need of the hour. This is also essential to prevent violent manifestations of discontent and unrest in our tribal areas emanating from exclusion and alienation.


Fifth, it is lost sight of that many Adivasis straddle multiple dimensions of deprivation and vulnerability. Besides being Scheduled Tribes, many of the Adivasis are also religious and linguistic minorities. It is very important that the protections afforded by the Constitution to the religious and linguistic minorities be fully made available to tribal communities that qualify.


I hope this seminar would act as a powerful tool for public advocacy on the extent of deprivation of Adivasis in the country and means to address them. I am confident that your deliberations would be immensely helpful for formulating policies conducive to Adivasi development.


Jharkhand State Roads Project - Gobindpur – Jamtara – Dumka – Barhet – Sahebganj comprising of a total length of 310.7 kms, traversing through a total of six districts in the state

A. The Project


The Jharkhand (JH) State Highway Project entails the upgradation and improvement of the existing State roads of Jharkhand with ADB assistance under the ADB's Country Operations Business Plan (2007-2009). The project will rehabilitate the deteriorated and damaged state road corridors to provide reliable road transport services and hence reduce poverty in the long term. The Executing Agency (EA) for this project will be the Jharkhand State Road Construction Department (JHRCD) which is responsible for about 6800 kms roads consisting of NH's, SH's and District roads.


In accordance with ADB's procedure for Project lending, a project road has been selected in the state of JH for project preparation and processing. This subproject comprises of the upgradation of the State highway section of Gobindpur – Jamtara – Dumka – Barhet – Sahebganj comprising of a total length of 310.7 kms, traversing through a total of six districts in the state. This existing road will be converted into a 2 lane State Highway under the Project.


B. Project Benefits and Impacts


The Project will augment connectivity between the six districts (Dhanbad, Jamtara, Dumka, Deoghar, Pakur and Sahibganj) and will lead to the easy accessibility of the local people to essential socio-economic services such as health care, education, administrative services and trade centres enhancing the general quality of life. One of the key problems faced by the local people presently is the lack of means of transport, as very few public transport ply on these roads due to the poor road condition. The limited transport vehicles that do ply charge nearly double fare particularly making accessing socio-economic services difficult for the poor communities in the area. The Project, by improving road condition, is anticipated to improve access and transport options manifold thereby benefiting the locals particularly the poor. The Package IV from Barhet to Sahibganj is the shortest package of the total project corridor; whic takes off from Barhet, passes through Borio and reaches Sahibganj. The sub project corridor in this package passes through tribal village like Kadma, Sonajori etc, where availability of ROW is narrow.


As part of the Project, the existing road in Package IV would be improved and widened to standard two lane entailing a total widening of 30 meters. Taking into account the widening involved and despite the anticipated social economic benefits, the Project will necessitate land acquisition hence entailing involuntary resettlement. In order to assess the Project level resettlement impacts, a detailed census survey was undertaken package wise from January 2008 onwards.


During the survey, it is estimated that a total of 857 households will be affected in Package IV – Barhet-Sahibganj subproject. The impacts of the present project largely include loss of land (residential and commercial); structure (residential, commercial and government & institution owned) income and livelihood (owners, employees, squatters). A total of 55.57 acres of land and 1047 assets (comprising of agricultural plots, residential, commercial and residential cum commercial assets, trees etc) will be affected as a result of the subproject improvements. The data gathered from the census survey reveals that amongst the affected 857 households, the majority 41% will incur loss of agricultural land, followed by 38% households incurring loss of residential structures. In addition, 5% will incur impact on Commercial assets and 15% on residential cum commercial assets. Table A presents a summary profile of the affected project population in the subproject as a whole.


C. Measures to Minimize Impact


All necessary efforts have been made in order to minimize the subproject impacts and to reduce disruption of livelihood. In order to minimize impacts to the maximum possible extent, adequate provisions have been incorporated into the planning and design of the subproject to minimize or mitigate any unavoidable impacts. The key technical efforts undertaken to minimize impacts comprise of – provision for - a) Community bypasses in several village areas and built up areas and into a more rural setting, b) reduction of Alignment & following existing road alignment in critical areas, and c) adoption of toe wall approach in embankment construction.


D. Objective of the Resettlement Plan


The resettlement plan (RP) is guided by the National R&R Policy - 2007, JH R&R Norms – 2009, Bihar R&R Policy - 2007 and various state laws on land acquisition, and relevant ADB Policy on Involuntary Resettlement (1995) and Operations Manual F2 on Involuntary Resettlement (2006).


The primary objective of the RP is to identify impacts and to plan measures to mitigate various losses of the subproject. The RP is based on the general findings of the resettlement census survey, field visits, and meetings with various project-affected persons in the subproject area. The RP presents (i) type and extent of loss of assets, including land and structures; (ii) principles and legal framework applicable for mitigation of losses; (iii) entitlement matrix, based on the inventory of loss and (iii) budget, institutional framework for the implementation of the plan, including monitoring and evaluation.


E. Stakeholder Participation and Disclosure of RP


Local level stakeholders were consulted in the subproject area while conducting initial social and poverty assessment. Similarly, due consideration was also given for Stakeholder consultations and community participation at different levels during RP preparation. A summary of this Resettlement Plan (RP) will be translated into Hindi and Santhali and will be made available to the affected people by the Executing Agency (EA) for review and comments on the policy and mitigation measures by means of subproject-level Disclosure workshops prior to loan negotiation. Copies of summary RP will also be made available at the local level public offices such as revenue offices and gram panchayat to stakeholders for local inputs prior to award of civil work contract. The proceedings of the disclosure workshop and the feedback received will be sent to ADB for review. The summary of the final RP will also be disclosed on the ADB Website.


F. Implementation Arrangements & Grievance Redressal


Executing Agency (EA) of the State Road Project in Jharkhand is the Road Construction Department (RCD) of the State government and will be responsible for overall strategic guidance, technical supervision, execution of the project, and ensuring compliance with the loan covenants. Project Implementation Cell under Road Construction Department will be established in Ranchi. This PIC will be headed by a full-time Director (ADB Project) reporting to the Secretary – RCD.


PIC would also ensure monitoring any changes to the subproject design. In case of change in subproject design thereby entailing change in resettlement impacts, a re-evaluation and updation of the RP will be undertaken. The updated RP will be disclosed to the APs, endorsed by the EA and will be submitted to ADB for approval prior to award of civil works contracts for the subproject. The updated RP, not just the summary will be disclosed to the APs as well as uploaded on the ADB website after ADB review and approval. PIC would also ensure that resettlement budgets are delivered on time for RP implementation. A field based District level Implementation Cell, headed by an Executive Engineer and assisted by a dedicated R&R Officer (RO) to implement the RP, will be responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the RP. This DIC will be assisted by local NGOs.


In order to resolve and address the grievances of the communities and people affected, a Grievance Redressal Cell would be established at the District Implementation Cell level. This Cell will comprise of the Executive Engineer, local NGO representative, community leaders (non- political), representatives of affected persons including women and vulnerable groups. To facilitate inter-departmental coordination as well as ensure speedy resolution of issues and grievances of the communities, a District level task force chaired by District Collector and comprising of District Land Acquisition Officer (DLAO), District Forest Officer (DFO), Executive Engineer and Additional District Magistrate and Relief Officer has been constituted at the each district level.


All compensation and other assistances1 will be paid to all APs prior to commencement of civil works. A detailed implementation schedule for the various activities is provided in Figure 7.2 in the main text.


G. Budget


The total estimated cost for resettlement operation and management for the Project is Rs. 85,215,411 (USD 2,028,938).


H. Training, Monitoring & Evaluation


An orientation and training in resettlement management will be provided under the Project by the ADB Consultant on NGO Engagement to the NGOs focusing on issues concerning - (i) principles and procedures of land acquisition; (ii) the policies and principles agreed under the ADB loan; (iii) public consultation and participation; (iv) entitlements and compensation disbursement mechanisms; (v) Grievance redressal and (vi) monitoring of resettlement operation.


The RP will have both internal and external monitoring. Internal Monitoring will be a regular activity for the PIC, which will oversee the timely implementation of R&R activities. Internal Monitoring will be carried out by the PIC and its agents, such as NGOs and will prepare monthly reports on the progress of RP Implementation.


External (or independent) monitoring will be hired by ADB to provide an independent periodic assessment of resettlement implementation and impacts to verify internal monitoring, and to suggest adjustment of delivery mechanisms and procedures as required.


Download the entire report here (.pdf).


Over 12,000 trees would be uprooted from the districts of Dumka, Sahebganj, Jamtara and Pakur to facilitate the construction of the highway that is being sponsored by Asian Development Bank.

Four districts have to pay a heavy green price for the proposed Govindpur-Sahebganj two-lane express highway.


At Sahebganj district, 2.21 hectares of uncovered forestland and 0.8627 hectares of covered forestlands will be acquired. Over 2,597 trees at four Mouzas (revenue villages) — Khairasol, Paharpur, Bara Chandvasi and Burudehi — spreading across 2.991 hectares would be cut down for the construction of the highway. At Pakur, around 1,200 trees would be under the axe while the loss of trees in Dumka will be about 4,500.


Regional chief conservator of forest (Dumka) Manraj has send the initial proposal of uprooting trees to the state headquarters after receiving a proposal from the forest department of respective districts in Santhal Pargana.


In the first phase, executive engineers of road divisions would send the proposal to the concerned district forest officials (DFOs) for acquiring the forestland for the highway, Manraj said. The DFO would then conduct survey of lands and send the final report to the state.


According to DFO of Sahebganj J.P.N. Sinha, the road division or the concerned authorities will only get the no-objection certificate only after compensating for cutting the trees as per the norms of the ministry of forest and environment.


The 330km-stretch highway would cost approximately Rs 800 crore, sources said. The road will begin from Govindpur (Dhanbad) and pass through Sahebganj via Jamtara, Dumka, Pakur. The road would also cover some parts of Palazori, in between Jamtara and Dumka, at Deoghar.


© The Telegraph / July 8, 2009


Health hiccup for hilltop Adivasi in Dumka, Jharkhand

Family members of Sharmila Kumari (15) and Samonti Devi (35) — two cerebral malaria patients at Paharia village, Bhoolpaharia, under Massanjore police station in Dumka — have no hope that the patients could survive.


The reason: poor healthcare facilities provided by the government at the hilltop village. "We hardly have anything to eat. How could we carry the patients to Dumka town for further treatment?" asked one of the family members.


The state — under special welfare projects for venerable Paharia tribes in six Santhal Pargana districts — has spent crores of rupees every year. It has even appointed special Paharia officer in each district to monitor government-sponsored schemes. Since the near-extinct ethnic community members prefer to stay at their hilltop villages, the state had arranged special medical services on their doorsteps. But all such efforts have failed to curb mortality rate, said a government official on condition of anonymity. "I was asked to visit the special Paharia health centre every fortnight on a monthly remuneration of Rs 200. Imagine my hardship to travel or climb the hilltop to take care of the patients," said Ramishwar Singh, an allopathic doctor in charge of Uparmurgathali, besides Chatupara and Ghoribad villages.


"Since the patients are in hand-to-mouth conditions, on many occasions I have to lend money from my pocket for the medicines," he added.


Lakshmi Devi Mirdha, an auxiliary nursing midwife posted at Ghoribad Paharia special hospital in Jama block, alleged that the monthly remuneration of Rs 1,200 came through the local gram sabha and she has to pay 10 per cent of the amount as "bribe" for releasing the amount. "Why such indiscrimination? Para-teachers posted at Paharia villages receive direct remuneration from the schools?" she said angrily.


Tulshi Das Hembrom, a compounder at Siddhapaharia Paharaia hospital in Gopikander, said that with the monthly honorarium of Rs 1,000 per month, it was very difficult for him to provide 24-hour duty.


"In June, I had attained more than 260 patients independently as the doctor on duty visited only two days," he said.


There are eight special Paharia health centres in Dumka district spread across 10 blocks run by the welfare department with three doctors (each having charges of two-three centres), with eight ANMs and eight compounders. The health centres are run by the gram sabhas under the supervision of special Paharia officer. The appointment of the heath workers was done by the gram sabhas. The government gives Rs 71,200 a year to each health centre out of which Rs 40,000 is meant for purchasing medicines.


Most of the staff in the health centres said that malnutrition, water-borne diseases, cerebral malaria and malaria along with other ailments were common in the areas. "We are working for the government but it is not recognising us as its staff," said Gita Hembrom, an ANM of Chatupara Paharia Hospital.


On July 8, 2008, Dumka deputy commissioner Prasant Kumar, in a confidential report to the welfare department additional secretary (letter no 1659/8-7-08), requested an increase in monthly remuneration of the workers in the special Paharia health centres in the district. He also requested the state to provide different allowances in accordance with the government sops offered to medical workers.


Even after over one year, the welfare department is yet to take notice of the letter. "The ball is now in the court of the state. What can we do with it?" Dumka special Paharia officer Dashrath Prasad Routh said helplessly. He admitted that because of hardship, proper attention to the endangered Paharia tribes could not be possible.


© The Telegraph / July 10, 2009

Dumka: Children of a Paharia Adivasi village prefer to graze cattle than study

Children of Budhudehi, a Paharia Adivasi village in the Dumka district, prefer to graze cattle than study.


"The primary school in the village is closed as the teacher never comes to take classes, but children should not roam idle. So, we ask them to graze cattle instead," says Malti Paharia, a homemaker.


"Last year, we had the opportunity to enjoy classes, that too only for three-four days," said Budhan Pujahar (9), who is enrolled in Class III in the school. His classmates, Faku Paharia, Ravi Hansdak, echo Budhan, who all have turned cowboys for now.


Dulali Baski of the village said that besides grazing cattle, the kids have now started helping their parents in domestic chores and agriculture, while the youth have left the village in search of jobs.


In a letter to deputy commissioner Prasant Kumar, Ram Jivan Paharia, the Dumka district president of the Adim Janjati Vikash Samiti, an association of the vulnerable Paharia tribes, has urged to ensure arranging education at Budhudehi primary school, which has around 130 children. During early '60s, the school was set up for the children of Paharia tribes. Ram Jivan, in the letter, alleged that schoolteacher Ajit Kumar Singh prefers to stay at his house in neighbouring Bihar and never visits the school. "With tacit support of education department official, he, however, enjoys his regular salary," the letter said.


One has to walk more than 12km on a difficult stretch to climb Budhudehi on a hilltop, about 29km from Ranishwar block headquarters. The hilltop village consists of 58 Paharia families and 13 Santhal ones. Budhudehi — bordering Pasaliya in Jamtara's Kondohit block on the west and Rajnagar police station areas in Bengal's Birbhum district on the south — has become infamous for Maoist activities.


The Naxalites conduct training camps in the nearby Sonachara forest, on the other slope of the hill. Even block administration officials avoid visiting the village fearing Naxalite violence.


In December 2007, an eight-member team of Simi, a voluntary organisation, conducted a survey at Brindavani panchayat, while climbing on to the village. It had first highlighted the issue of the school's closure because of the teacher's absence.


Then Dumka deputy commissioner Mastram Meena, who had taken the issue seriously, decided to hold a janata durbar (public hearing) at Budhudehi. The hearing was organised at nearby Tarani village on January 28, 2008, after district officials found it hard to climb the hill and intelligence bureau sniffed Maoist presence in the locality.


Villagers from Budhudehi came down to narrate their plight before top-ranking district officials. District superintendent of education Rajiv Lochan had selected one unemployed youth from the village, Bijoy Puzahar, as a para-teacher of the school at the hearing itself.


Meena also had ordered the transfer of Ajit Kumar Singh from the school. But after Meena's transfer, nothing was done — Singh still enjoys his post and Puzahar did not get the para-teacher's job.


Lochan refused to comment. "I am out of Dumka. So I cannot speak on this," he told The Telegraph this afternoon.


Deputy commissioner Kumar was not available but sources in his office were unaware of the school. Asked the reason for closing of the school, Haridutt Thakur, the Ranishwar co-ordinator of block resource centre-cum-block education extension officer, said that appropriate action would be taken after conducting an inquiry.


Telegraph / June 20, 2009

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