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STUDY

ON

PRE DROUGHT STATUS

IN

PALAMAU & SANTHAL PARGANA

 

Period: JULY 2005

Introduction:

Drought has presented gloomy picture in the rural areas of Jharkhand. The print and electronic media reported number of hunger deaths since the year when Jharkhand was established as a new state. The year 2004 observed severe drought in the state though ambitious programmes to provide food and social security are available. Massive demonstration in the state capital and at the district / block level was organized, in participation with the village people, to build pressure on the state government for immediate relief work. State government announced relief work in the drought-affected areas, but this was found fake due to non-completion of the decisions by the state. Negligence of government to supply relief at the grass root explored the inhumanity of the bureaucrats towards vulnerable and destitute people. Jharkhand since separation from Bihar is going through rigorous drought situation and deaths due to starvation are increasing persistently. Survey and declaration of drought is observed too lengthy by the state government. Rain starts falling till state comes to the conclusion on initiating drought relief work in the affected areas and this obstructs the construction work, and fund released for work ultimately goes into the accounts of the concerned officers / contractors. Drought situation is been experienced every year but State efforts were never observed effective to serve the people suffering from harsh condition. It seems that state government has failed to learn to cope or rather it could be better to be said that state doesn’t wants to consider it as a major concern. Neither the ruling party has taken it as a burning issue, nor the opposition parties ever initiated in this regard. Previously when Jharkhand was not established as a new state ‘Bihar drought & flood relief code’ was in use to meet the intensity of natural calamity in the state in which pre-drought / pre-flood management is been described. Jharkhand state, after separation from Bihar, has not outfitted any relief code related to drought to mitigate the incidence. In the year 2004 state government decided and called meeting to chock out some effective plan of action for pre-drought management in the state to minimize the consequence of drought. But ultimately what was the outcome of that meeting is been found in dilemma.

In this report it has been tried to assess the state government’s initiative towards making effective step for pre-drought management in the severely drought affected areas. This report is based upon the field survey in the drought-affected areas, which were seriously exaggerated in 2004, to evaluate the existing condition before the occurrence of drought in the state. Beside these it also an intention to find the pre drought preparation of the District administration as per the Bihar Drought and Flood relief code and how far the District administration made its arrangements to tackle if… Drought like situation breaks.

Background:

          Jharkhand, since its formation as a new state, is experiencing rigorous drought situation in most parts and corollary of starvation deaths were reported due to scarcity of adequate food for survival. But, the state government was found more vigorous to deny deaths due to starvation. And, relief work started in the affected areas when government realized and came to a conclusion that state is under drought situation. But the relief work was also observed too late to mitigate the severe situation at the grass root. In addition to this, relief work was found highly asymmetrical and corrupt, which implemented to serve destitute and disadvantaged people but was spent for the interest of the concerned officials / contractors.

 

In the year 2002 starvation deaths in the Manatu Block of Palamau district of state have been raised by the civil society organisation. Study have been conducted in the Manatu block by Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and found that the situation was worse, Social Security Scheme and employment generation scheme of government were failure. Government machinery was not in the grass root. Block Office remains close for long time. Government of Jharkhand announced Tank Relief programme in Palamau and Santhal Pargana districts to create additional employment and to create water bodies for water conservation in the region. In the year 2003 series of starvation deaths in the Lesliganj and Panki block of Palamau district due to outbreak of drought. At the same time Gram Swaraj also conducted study and found corruption in drought relief programme which debarred the poor community to take the benefit. In the year 2004 starvation registered from different districts of the State and Government of Jharkhand also announced the relief package and once again relief didn’t fulfill the need of the people.

 

          Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA) a non-registered and non-political organization, since 2001 it has conducted series of study and research on the issue of food security and issue related to starvation deaths. In the year 2003 it has conducted its study on Tank relief programme in Palamau Districts in and found that not a single tank completed in a year. Palamau is a region from where 70% workforce migrating to outside State for work. This shows that authority in the power is inefficient to complete the work of 1000 Chouka in a year. Maximum tank were in between to 100-200 Chouka i.e. the work of only Rs.13000/- is being done, but payment made more than that. Govt. announced relief in 2002 and work started in 2003 as tank relief programme and once again in 2003 Govt. announced relief programme in the drought prone blocks of Palamau. But the poor community is not able to take the benefit of the work due to the inefficient and corrupt officials in the block office.

 

          In the year 2003 study comes to the point of conclusion that all the BPL (Below Poverty Line) holders are the victim of starvation deaths and due to shortage of employment, question arises that during Ninth plan Govt. work can’t be able to benefit the poor those are under the BPL. All the deaths were from the Schedule Caste families, those having no land for Cultivation, then the question remains that land entitlement and distribution of land has not been taken place to true beneficiary. During the month of August and September 2003 District Administration denied the drought situation in the State and during the month of October Ruling party Minister admitted the fact about the drought situation, this shows that the Govt. is working without any preplanning and due to this situation drought prone area of State became grim. District Administration and Block office are inefficient to judge the situation beforehand and as a result the starvation deaths. Government programme is not functioning in the block. District administration and Ruling Party don’t have willing to include the Opposition and Social organization for the Development of the State. Employment generation programme is not reaching to the poor. There is a nexus between the Politician, officers, Contractors and digesting all the money of Govt. Programme. People’s voice   was not accepted in time. Relief work doesn’t show any interest to include the all functionaries other than the Govt. functionaries. Tank relief programme didn’t strengthen the poor. Tank Relief work lost its mandatory condition (work has not been implemented through the Gram Sabha.)

 

          In the year 2004, when GSA conducted its next study in drought prone areas, found that Policy on Famine needs to be redefined and other indicators for famine to be included           strongly. Since, starvation death can be proved by the general standard of under-nutrition     and malnutrition prevalent in a particular locality and by making an assessment of income of the person concerned. Where is the boundary in between Malnutrition and starvation death? Globalization and ignorance to the most vulnerable families may raise more           questions on starvation deaths. Accumulation of the vulnerable families in safety net zone is matter of concern. Continuity in acute malnutrition standard may drag to starvation deaths. Supreme Court order on Social security scheme indicates the alarming          situation over the monitoring over the system and corruption. In a separate study on BMI (Body Mass Index) of Palamau in the year 2003 and 2004 in Palamau district, it was found that 34.58 percent children recorded in the category of acute malnutrition in 2003, whereas in 2004 it was found that 34.26 percent children recorded in the category of acute malnutrition. Continuity of figure is alarming. 13.09 percent adult recorded in the category of acute malnutrition in 2003 in           State. 26.23 percent adult recorded in the category of acute malnutrition in 2004. Increasing rate is alarming.        Forest area lost its potentiality to generate employment and then income. Change in food grains variety from traditional is benefiting the big farmers but threatening to the marginal families. Off farm activity among the vulnerable families is mostly nil and may cause low income.

 

In order to assess the severity of drought and hunger situation, GSA undertook a quick survey in 112 villages from 12 blocks in 7 districts; namely Palamau, Garhwa, Latehar, Ranchi, Godda, Dumka and East Singhbhum between 22nd and 26th August 2004. The period covered during the survey was June to August 15, 2004. This study observed that rainfall had been inadequate as well as irregular in June and July 2004, which was 25% below of normal rainfall. Of the 311 Ahars (traditional water harvesting and storage structures) covered in the survey, water availability was only 18% compared to a normal non-drought year. Water availability was less than 50% in the 495 wells surveyed in these villages. The loss of Halka paddy, an early maturing upland paddy variety that ensures food security in September and October, has been to the extent of 84%. In Palamau division the loss has been to the extent of 99%. It is the failure of this crop that causes famine situation in poor households. As far as low land (Bhari) paddy is concerned, it was sown only on 28% of the lands in the surveyed villages. A large number of cattle deaths, a total of 3291 cattle, were reported during the survey period. Status of food and social security schemes were also observed incompetent to serve the poor households. Study revealed that 1513 persons migrated in search of employment / earning for their survival.

 

          This report was shared with the state government and the Chief Minister of Jharkhand and demanded for immediate execution of relief work in the drought affected regions. The State government announced to implement drought relief programme immediately in which construction of one lakh ponds within one hundred days and providing free grains to vulnerable families were stressed. But the field reality found different from the announcements made by the Chief Minister. Also adoption pre-drought management measures were discussed to meet such incidence in future.

 

          Henceforth it seems that there is lack of vision to lead a state in a category of developed State. Machinery to work on the issues is failure. Though we have the system to go one by one but it is lagging behind. There is a Drought and Flood relief code for the State but perhaps no body is following to go with the system, which was maintained earlier. There is no culture to go together for the same cause. System is not transparent to share.

 

 

BIHAR DROUGHT AND FLOOD RELIEF CODE

         

The British Government made Bihar drought and flood relief code during the colonial rule in India. After the independence of India this relief code was consider as the document for mitigating the drought and flood relief in the State of Bihar and Jharkhand. This is the only document, which is in practice and giving the guideline to the state Government to deal the drought and flood situation in the State. But there is a need to certain changes on the relief code according to changing scenario. Government is failure to develop such type of alternative document for the governance therefore in that case   at least it is only document to follow and accordingly government is making its decisions in the State particularly in Drought period of the State. But it is also a subject to verify that the norms of Bihar drought and flood relief code are being followed in true sense or not.

 

The people of Jharkhand is facing drought since 2001 and series of starvation deaths have been registered from different districts of the Jharkhand since then. Government of Jharkhand also admitted the fact situation of drought since 2001 and accordingly State government announced the Drought relief programme in the State. In the year 2002 Government of Jharkhand announced Tank Relief programme in Santhal Pargana and Palamau commissionary of Jharkhand. In the year 2003 Government of Jharkhand announced Drought relief programme in Lesliganj and Panki block of Palamau districts. In the year 2004 state Government once again announced the Drought relief programme in the State. All those decisions made under the directions of the Bihar drought & Flood Relief Code”.

 

It is necessary to focus the provisions of the Bihar drought and Flood Relief code in context of Jharkhand. Jharkhand is facing the drought situation therefore the drought part must be taken into consideration for the reference in Jharkhand. Relief code also instructs pre drought phase activity in the drought zone of the State. Relief code says the lot of preparation before the drought break in the drought area. It has defined the responsibility of the District Administration and its concerned department for making the necessary measures for relief so that drought may not affect too much in terms of loss of human like Starvation deaths due to scarcity of food. Therefore necessary arrangement must be done in the area it can be expected that drought like situation may come. Therefore pre arrangements says that

 

        Whether rain measuring instrument are available in the centre or not.

        Whether instrument is in running condition or not.

        Weekly collection of rainfall status by the block office.

        Progress on agricultural activity.

        Status of the crop, which is already in the field.

        Grain stock in District and also block wise.

        Status of the Food availability in the most vulnerable families.

        Health Status of the people in the region.

        Availability of water and fodder for the animals.

        Status of the price of the consumable commodities.

        Cases of robbery.

        Migration

        Making observation on the families and destitute who left own houses and started to beg in search of food.

        Identification and listing the vulnerable families.

        Status of the grain gola and seed gola.

        Movement trend of the private moneylenders in the villages.

        Status of the revenue collection in the Circle offices.

 

These are the certain information to be collected by the district administration and accordingly concerned department to be made active so that concrete and fact information may be collected from the office. District agriculture department will also instruct the block agricultural officer to prepare the status chart of the various crops and its status.  These are all the information to be started from the month of April every year in drought effected place and to be continued until the crops not harvested. 

 

But if go to the announcement of drought in the year 2002,2003 and 2004 respectively then it can be found that all the decisions were delayed decision and it seems that norms under the code are not being followed by the District administration. Therefore relief couldn’t be able to support the people of drought prone area as it was expected and ultimately it transform in corruption. Because at that time victim population made its own arrangements, it may be migration, loan from moneylenders and Starvation deaths. Therefore people didn’t show too much interest in relief work.

 

Like wise in the year 2002 when starvation deaths reported from the Manatu Block of Palamau district. Chief Relief commissioner and the Minister, Land and revenue made their visit in the Manatu block. Government of Jharkhand announced drought in Last quarter of 2002 and work started in the year 2003 and continued for only 1 month then stopped due to monsoon break (Tank relief programme amounting 70,000/- each tank). Similarly for the 2003 Government announced drought for the Palamau district (certain blocks) in the month of November 2003 and work started in the month of February 2004 and was also stopped due to announcement of Lok sabha Election by the Election Commission. Thirdly in the year 2004 Government of Jharkhand announced drought relief programme in the month of October 2004 i.e. 1 Lac pond in 100 days, universelisation of the Mid Day Meal programme, providing ration at the rate of 3/- and 2/- to all BPL (Below Poverty Line) families. It was once again not implemented fully during the period and announcement of assembly Election in State affected the Drought relief programme and series of starvation deaths in different districts of the State.

 

It indicates that Government officials are failure to collect all the information as per the Drought code and there is a lack of pre drought preparation by the district administration. When pressure started to come from the activist and political organization for the announcement of relief programme, Government in hurry announces the relief programme without any plan; this was happen in the entire announcement. Once programme implemented without planning it gives ample opportunity for corruption and no benefit to the community for which announcement made.

 

PRE DROUGHT STUDY- REPORT

 

Research methodology:

 

Research Methodology has been finalized through various stages of planning. Those are as below:-

  1. Study discussion at Coordination committee of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan- Coordination committee members (project partners of Action Aid, non funded Organisation, Journalist, Individuals) have discussed over the study design in the Coordination committee. Discussion basically focuses on the contents of the study and the very objective of the study.

 

  1. Format Design- Gram Swaraj Abhiyan secretariat designed the format and share with the Fellow research those who are expertise on the research study. GSA secretariat shared the format with the members of the Coordination committee and collected the consent for study.

 

    

  1. Survey- Survey conducted through the NGOs those are working in the region of Santhal Pargana and Palamau commissionary of the State. Survey has been done by the NGO workers those having the experience of 5 years in the development sector and local to the community. During the survey secretariat collected the feedback from the field.

 

  1. Survey period- Survey conducted in the month of June 2005. it was purposive to get the data just before the monsoon break, just in order to get the real situation of the field and preparation for the pre drought phase.

 

 

  1. Participating organisation in survey- SATHEE (Godda), CHETNA VIKAS (Deoghar), GRAM SWARAJ ABHIYAN (Sahebganj) MANAS PARIVARTAN (Godda), JAN CHETNA KENDRA (Garhwa), VIKASH SHAYOG KENDRA (Palamau), ALTERNATIVE FOR INDIA DEVELOPMENT (Palamau), NILAMBER PITAMBER DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION (Palamau)

 

  1. Coverage area of the Survey- Field survey conducted in 111 villages. It includes 10 Blocks and 5 Districts of the State. Study conducted in the districts of the Godda, Palamau, Garhwa, Dumka, and Sahebganj. These districts are drought prone area of the State and districts are facing the drought situation since 2001.

 

 

  1. Data Compiling, Analysis and Report writing- Filled format have been collected to the GSA secretariat and Research fellows in the GSA compiled the data and as per the past experience they have analyzed data.  After analysis of the data report have been prepared.

 

  1. Sharing of report with the coordination committee members- Report on Pre Drought Study has been shared with the coordination committee members and after then it is being finalized for the final report.

 

Demography of the surveyed areas:

 

Survey conducted in 111 villages in 5 districts and it includes total of 21847 households. Out of these families 32 percent belongs to Schedule Tribe and 13.2 percent were from Schedule Caste community. Study revealed that 33.9 percent families are under Below Poverty Line (BPL) in the surveyed villages. Survey targeted the community Munda, Santhal, Kherwar, Parhiya, Pahariya, Oraon, Chero and Korwa among Schedule Tribes etc and Bhuiyan, Chamar, Turi etc. among the Schedule Castes. It has been observed in the past study that these communities are real victim of the vulnerability and the Starvation deaths. Among these community women, Old age person and children are the groups those have been listed in starvation deaths in past. These districts are also been identified under the National Food for work (NFFW) and work already been started in those areas.

 

1.               Migration:

 

a)     People Migrated

 

It is common understanding that once agricultural area gets low rainfall and there is no chance for agriculture activity in the region then agriculture laborers have only option to migrate for survival. But in Jharkhand it is the common practice that villagers are migrating outside also in the agricultural season for agricultural work to other State. But migration seasonality says that during first week of June villagers used to return own destination. But pre-drought study revealed that during pre-monsoon period, people, in search of employment, have migrated from their respective villages. This was found in 82 percent of the village among total surveyed villages.

 

b)     Reason behind migration

 

It has been observed that people use to migrate from their villages during the drought situation in search of employment / income generation opportunity. Migration has been one of the coping mechanisms in such situation. Recently National Food for Work Programme has been implemented in the state, which is having an integral objective to provide wage employment to the village people. Under this programme provisions have been made to provide at least 25% cash of total wage amount and also at least 25% essentially will be given as kind, which will be in the form of grains. But, the survey revealed that percentage of people migrating due to unavailability of employment in the village, whereas, 17 percent people migrated due to scarcity of food for their survival. In such a situation performance of this programme really needs to be questioned. People also migrated to earn money to face drought situation as because no effective measures have been initiated from the government side to ensure security from the occurrence of severe drought in the regions.

                                                                                     

c) It is observed that people use to migrate during drought to earn money for their food. But, pre-drought survey found that people have migrated before the occurrence of drought. This is because since 3 – 4 years Jharkhand is reeling from drought and people don’t access adequate food security due to which starvation deaths is going on. It was observed that 45.95 percent villages responded that 1 – 10 households have migrated due to abovementioned reasons. 10 – 20 households migrated in 15.32 percent villages, whereas, more than 40 households migrated in

9.91 percent villages.

 

Study explored that number of people migrated have been increased up to 100 or more in 3.9 percent villages. In 13.6 percent village number of people migrated within 70 – 100. 10 – 30 persons and 30 – 50 persons migrated in 36.9 and 24.3 percentage villages respectively. These people are those who are heading the family, and due to their migration women, disabled and old age people are left alone to struggle with the existing situation in the village.

Food insecurity and unemployment is so dominant in the villages that women and children have also migrated along with others to earn some money to secure their lives from starvation. Number of women migrated within 1 – 10 and 10 – 20 in 24.3 and 12.6 percent villages respectively, whereas, in 6.3 percent village number of migrant women is within 20 – 30. In 1.8 percent village number of migrant women is more than 40.

Under these circumstances village people are unable to manage their children who are in school going age. Due to not having any other option they use to take their children too along with them to the place they migrate in search of income opportunity. During this survey it was reported that number of children between 1 – 10 and 10 – 20 migrated with their parents in 32.4 and 10.8 percent village. In 2.7 percent village it was found that number exceeded to more than 40 children. In the age, when education is unavoidable, these children had migrated with their families. Although midday meal scheme has been implemented but it is of no use for them because due to migration of almost all the family members nobody has left at home to take care of these children.

 

Another major issue of concern is that the people left alone with no care at home, by the migrated people, are spending their days in difficulty. Pregnant women, old-age people and disabled are mostly left behind whose condition appears pathetic due to no means of income and availability of sufficient food for their survival. In 26.1 percent village it was found that number of pregnant women between 1 - 10 and between 10 – 20 pregnant women in 6.3 percent village left alone at home with no one to take care of them. Likewise the condition of old aged people is pitiable due to having no family member at home to care for them. In 27 percent village it was observed that number of old age people between 1 – 10 are staying alone at home due to migration of other family members, whereas, in 7.2 percent village number of old age people left alone between 10 – 20.

Observation says that there are good numbers of programmes to secure food security and employment generation like Antodaya, Annapurna, Integrated Child Development scheme and National food for work programme, but it seems that villagers are not getting confidence with the implementation of these schemes and therefore opted for migration to outstation.

 

2.               Money lending & Mortgage of Land:

Continuity of drought since 3 – 4 years has affected the rural people very badly. Villagers are not in a status to bear the cost of fooding and other necessary arrangements for agricultural activities. Situation has imposed the poor households to take loan from local Mahajan’s to meet their needs. Due to this people gets under the trap of vicious cycle in which they use to take loan even to pay their debts too along with arrangements of other necessities. In 7.2 percent village out of total surveyed villages more than 40 households have taken loan to meet their needs.

                                                                            

In 32.5 percent households loan taken upto Rs. 500/-, whereas, 15.5 percent households are those who have taken loan upto Rs. 1000/-. 16.5 percent households have taken loan upto Rs. 2000/- and 15.3 percent are those who have taken more than Rs. 2000. People in the surveyed villages have mortgaged their lands, which is the only means of food security for some through production, to get money for different purposes related to income generation. Less and irregular rainfall has caused in dryness of agricultural lands, and no possibility of agro-activities have forced the village people to migrate in search of daily wage work for their survival. Relief work and Food for Work Programme, which are intended to provide employment to the village people, has failed to achieve the determined objectives. Case of land mortgage has been revealed in 85 percent village out of total surveyed villages. In case of exigency village people mortgages their land because they don’t access other options, and this gives the idea that Mahajani pratha is dominant and easy money lending option for the villagers. When it was tried to find out the number of households mortgaged their land in the village it was found that land mortgage is much more in practice to acquire money for their essential requirements. Land mortgaging practice is in use by upto 1 – 5 households and 5 – 10 households normally in the surveyed villages.

 

This explains the situation in the village, which is taking place due to lack of sufficient means for survival during general days. This indicates the future events that would take place if drought occurs.

          In Rural India agriculture is a backbone and the Land holding can ensure the agriculture activity and income generation for the poor household. But it is  also fact that poor community is loosing the control over their respective land due to lack of economical support to the poor household. It is very shocking that today the tribals and dalits are vacating the villages and coming to the city as beggar or rickshaw puller. They are homeless in the city. The present system and anti poor policies are the factors, which is damaging the social structure of the society.

 

 

5.     Food availability:

          Continuation of drought for 3 – 4 years has admitted sever starvation before the vulnerable households who basically depends on agricultural productions and / or daily wage in agricultural work. Pre-drought study is an effort to analyze the situation at the grass root. Lots of food and social security schemes have been implemented for the eligible families as per the norms indicated in the programme guideline. Situation of destitute/poorest of the poor and old aged/disabled/widow gets bleak due to lack of livelihood means for their survival. It was reported during the survey period that households are left with only 10 days or 20 days food for them. In an average of 1 – 5 households in 38.7 percent village it was found that they are having food for only 10 days, whereas, 10.8 percent village are those where this condition exists in 40 or more than 40 households in the surveyed areas. Average 10 – 20 families in 24.3 percent village are in the condition with 20 days food only. Still more than 40 families are left with only 20 days food in 8.1 percent.

                                                                                   

Susceptibility has been gone beyond this condition and fact at the field arrived that average 1 – 5 families in 39.6 percent village are consuming only one time meal per day and even it was found that in 9.9 percent village this situation is existing in more than 40 families. This situation is prevailing in average 10 – 15 and 15 – 20 families in respectively 10.8 percent and 11.7 percent village. Annapurna Yojana and Antyodaya Anna Yojana is there to support the old aged/destitute/disabled persons and poorest of the poor families for food security. These schemes were also observed in an awkward position to avail ration adequately and timely to the beneficiaries. Information arrived that total 1410 persons have been covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojana in the surveyed villages, but distribution of ration didn’t took place in 61.5 percent village. Likewise, under Annapurna Yojana total families covered are 242, but under this scheme also it was found that ration didn’t distribute in 77.4 percent village. Under these circumstances it will become more difficult to these sections of the society to survive if drought happens.

          It is very much clear that 20 percentage of the household in every village of Jharkhand always have food security for 10 days if things go normal. It is more alarming that upto 5 households of the 40 percentage of the village in Jharkhand are taking only one meal in a day. This is the situation, and if anything which is not normal like drought or heavy rain falls 20 percentage of the families   in the State will be directly affected from the awkward situation i.e. “Starvation……..”.   That’s why Antodaya and Annapurna scheme are targeting those families in the Villages, but it is also well known to all that government is not too serious for making the system functional.  Situation is serious but governance is not serious.

 

6.     Employment opportunity:

          Survey has been carried out particularly in those districts, which are covered under National Food for Work Programme, and the situation of employment generation programme was observed dismal in the surveyed villages. Study in the survey area found that in 10.6 percent village government department has implemented only one work, whereas, in 34 percent village no work has been implemented. Due to this most of the households are not accessing employment in their respective villages. 34 percentage of the surveyed villages responded that “no Government work has been implemented in the Village”, whereas 10% of the villages responded only one government work has been implemented. It has also come to the analysis that 14.9 percentage of the village having more than three works, definitely these are the villages where minister and the MLAs having special caring as because it is their vote bank villages.  Only in 14.4 percent village out of total surveyed villages 20 or more than 20 households got the employment but 57.7 percent village responded that no household got the employment. In 16.2 percentage of village only upto 50 human days created and only in 1.8 percentage of villages got the human days upto three hundred days during the month of May 2005. Report on involvement of households in works executed by the government agency is depressing. Under these programmes usually construction works, like construction of ponds / check dams & other physical structures, are executed, which not only assures benefit to the villagers but also provides infrastructures for agricultural activities. Performance of human day’s creation is also not encouraging. This is not in a state to provide sufficient mandays and wage to the villagers, which is causing in increase of migration from the villages. Seriousness to fulfill the objectives of the programmes has been neglected. Payment of wage is also not taking place regularly under the programmes functioning under the government department. In 4.5 percent village it was reported that wage payment is done after 30 days, and in 16.2 percent village it was observed after 15 days. Families, who are dependant on daily wage for their fooding, face difficulty to manage. Amount of wage paid per day also found uneven in the surveyed villages. In 61.2 percent village people got wage up to or less than Rs. 50, whereas, in 14.9 percentage village wage provided up to more than Rs. 50 but less than Rs. 60. In only 23.9 percent village it was observed that villagers got more than Rs. 60 as their daily wage in the surveyed villages.

          This is the whole scenario which speaks that employment is not sufficiently provided although National food for Work (NFFW) have been implemented with the objective to provide wage employment to the 150 most backward districts of the Country. Identification of work is very much irregular and minimum wage is also one of the “Laxhman Rekha” where labourers are always lagging behind to get in the State.

 

 

7.     Animal Husbandry:

          Animal husbandry is an imperative activity of the rural people. Availability of livestock undoubtedly supports the villagers during emergency. A large number of cattle deaths, around 3291, reported in the year 2004 due to drought. During drought situation villagers sells their livestock to earn money to sustain them, low rainfall often results in lack of fodder for the animals and scarcity of water and food causes cattle deaths. Pre-drought survey observed the unwanted situation on this part, because in 47.7 percent village animal died within 1 – 10 numbers during survey period taken for the study, whereas, in 6.3 percent village it was found within 10 – 20 numbers. 14.4 percent villages are those from where death of animals increased to more than 30. If this is the pre-drought situation then it is obvious that it would become more ruthless if drought occurs. Reasons found behind these deaths were lack of fodder in 15.1 percent village, and lack of water in 5.4 percent village. Meager accessibility to food and water is imposing illness among cattle and majority, i.e. 74.2 percent, of death case was observed due to this reason.

          Penniless villagers are, in scarcity of employment/agro-activities, either migrating outside their respective villages or depending on sale of their animals to earn money to arrange food for the family. Mostly this trend has been observed during drought, but this situation is arriving before occurrence of drought in the state this year. As per the survey report on this point situation is not encouraging. Table shown below speaks the fact prevailing in the rural areas where survey has been conducted.

And, the reasons behind death of animals are not other than the afore-mentioned situation. Village people are already under the grief of debt and they are selling their animals to pay back their debts. This was found in 15.8 percent village. This is not the end of their problems because food insecurity to the families is dominant in the surveyed villages. People sold their animals to arrange food for their family in 44.7 percent village. Somehow this has supported some of the families from starvation, but for how many days it will sustain them? In 7.27 percent village animals stolen within 1 – 10 numbers and animals within 10 – 20 numbers got stolen in 1.8 percent village. Reason behind theft of animals is also observed not other than due to food insecurity, which was found in 9.1 percent village. . 

 

 

8.     Water availability for irrigation:

          It is well known that agriculture is the backbone of rural India and village people depends on this occupation primarily for their living. Water availability to perform agricultural activities is important, and this is still unavoidable that agricultural activities are dependant on rainwater for irrigation. Water resources existing in the form of check dams, ponds / ahars, wells are lesser in number in the villages and doesn’t provides sufficient irrigation water for agro-activities. Pre-drought study revealed that in 23.4 percent village irrigation resources is only one in number. Whereas, only 26.1 percent village are those where more than five irrigation resources are available. It indicates the irregularities in the identification of work. Secondly there is an accumulation of resources in particular area. This is happened due to the interventions of the Ministers in the development process, some time it became the bias.   But all of these resources are not in a condition to provide water for irrigation in the fields. Report arrived that most of the irrigation water resources are in a dry condition, which has obstructed the village people to initiate activities in the field. Due to this generation of employment in the agricultural activities is not taking place and the villagers, who don’t have agro-land and depends on income from agricultural activities in others lands, are constrained to migrate from their villages in search of employment. Unreliability of monsoon water has also created uncertainty in the agricultural sector, which supports these agricultural labourers to some extent by providing income through fieldwork.

 

9. Crop Coverage Status

Kharif and Rabi are two main crops of Jharkhand.  80% of the farmer population is directly depending upon the Kharif crop and at the same time major agricultural labourers are also involved in the kharif crop. One hectare of Paddy cultivation gives the opportunity to engage the 75 human days. Major part of the State is coming under the rain shadow area. Agriculture of State entirely depends upon the monsoon.

          It has been observed that monsoon comes in State between 5th to 10th June, but monsoon came in the last week of June. Rainfall is very irregular in the State. It has given the bad impact in the paddy seedling nursery. 50% of the farmers are not able to raise their paddy nursery till date due to irregular rainfall.

          First phase of the monsoon is for the cultivation of Bhadai crops (which includes Maize, Pulses & Oil seed) but this year due to irregular and below average rainfall farmers are not able to sow the Bhadai crops in time. Data reflects that Palamau and Garhwa is the worst case among the five surveyed districts where only 0.5% and 2.5% paddy sown in the field, whereas Dumka, Godda and Sahebganj is also not in better condition.

 

The sowing process of maize, pulses and oil seed almost seems to be completed up to 10th July but this year as per the data it shows that Palamau and Garhwa is badly affected for maize harvesting. It has been observed that maize is one of the major crops for drought prone areas where is considered as major crop, which ensures the food security for monsoon period. This year maize may not be able to support the poor families of the Palamau and Garhwa district.

          Landless and agricultural casual labour is taking single crop that is maize in their homestead land and maize is supporting them during the month of August and September. September and October are the two worst months for the landless families to get the food; at that time only maize supports them. Overall crop situation in the State is alarming towards the bad days for the vulnerable families.   

 

10.   Price increased:

          Bihar flood / drought relief code has explained the pre-drought management strategies. Increase in price is also established as a measurement tool to define drought / famine or situation of natural calamity under this relief code. Scarcity of resources, agro-products and lack of other necessary materials causes in hike of price in occurrence of a particular situation in an area. When it was tried to find out situation on this front it was observed, that in 9.9 percent village price increased up to 20 % during the period of survey. In 26.1 percent village case of price increase found up to 10 %, whereas, 5 % increment was reported from 23.4 percent village. This is hindering the poor families to obtain their necessities and even they are not having enough resources to attain their food needs.

          Dependency of women and / or women headed families has been also observed during the survey. These are mostly the widows, old-aged who are not having sufficient means of livelihood for their survival. Social security schemes to support these vulnerable section of the society has also been implemented by the government side, but situation observation at the grass root questions the status and success of these programmes. In the survey villages it was found that in 31.8 percent village an average of 1 – 5 women headed families are depending on others / relatives. This has been observed in 6.4 percent village where an average of 10 – 15 women is going through this experience. Reason behind this is no means of livelihood, disability, no food security through any existing schemes etc.

 

 

11.   Pre-drought management:

          Government of Jharkhand declared for immediate execution of relief work in the year 2004 due to drought. Also, meetings / seminars with government officials to plan out for pre-drought management to meet the bleakness evolves due to drought. On this point, when question asked in the surveyed villages to know the pre-drought management preparation, it was reported that in 99.1 percent village DC didn’t visited till the date of survey to assess the pre-drought situation in their respective areas. In none of the villages visit of SDO / BDO / CO took place to observe the same. Rainwater measurement equipment has also not been installed in the panchayats to analyze the adequacy/sufficiency of rainwater for the agricultural activities and products. It is well known to us that major part of the Jharkhand is coming under the rain shadow area therefore within the kilometer of distance the rainfall varies. This measurement and coverage of agro-products helps in assessment of occurrence of drought situation in the area. In 97.3 percent village it was observed that villagers are not having information about the pre-drought meeting at the block level to develop strategies to minimize the effect of drought if it occurs. It is also essential for the officials to prepare lists of vulnerable families before the incidence of drought so that immediate and adequate support could be ensured appropriately to prevent starvation deaths. But, in 84.3 percent village no such initiative from the government department was observed during the survey period.

          Pre drought management says more about the preparation according to the Bihar Drought & Flood Relief code. Districts like Palamau Garhwa, Latehar and Santhal Pargana etc. region having the record of 35 major droughts in 100 years of history. If such type of history why state is reluctant and neglecting the requirement of pre drought management. This is the main region for that State is facing the Starvation deaths victim in the most vulnerable pockets. Timely decisions on the relief can prohibit the starvation deaths in the State and for that it is necessary to stress upon the pre drought management.

 

 

Recommendation:

 

 

 

1. Govt. of Jharkhand should commit intensive intervention in drought prone areas of the state. Various departments namely dept. of agriculture, forest, soil and water conservation and dept. of food and civil supplies should converge to address the immediate and long-term crisis. A task force may immediately be set up to ensure proper coordination among and deliverables from various departments mentioned above. This becomes pertinent when the state has set up millennium goal for reduction of poverty levels by 50% by the year 2015.

 

Keeping the fact in mind that frequent occurrence of drought in one part or the other in the state, the government should form a high-powered Drought Mitigation Cell of permanent nature.

 

 

 

2. The state government should ensure entitlements of BPL families in social security schemes in a war-footing manner. ICDS, Antyodaya, TPDS and Annapurna are few food linked schemes that have to paid attention.

 

3. As evident, children are the worst affected in any disaster situation, so  State government should ensure qualitative cooked meal as per the Supreme Court orders (with special focus on drought prone areas) during vacations also.

 

4. The state government should take up the serous effort to implement the Food For Work programme and corruption must be checked.

 

5. The Agriculture department should allocate fund for the promotion of drought resistant variety of crop, as it is a well-known fact that nearly 50% of Jharkhand is drought prone. Instead of planning after the occurrence of drought, the department should work in advance as a long-term measure.

 

 

6. Relief code should be made public for debate and opinion building on its relevance and amendment required.

 

7. Relief Code should made operational for most vulnerable families so direct benefit goes to them, past experience says that vulnerable are the victim of starvation deaths.

 

8. State Drought Policy should be made, which will include the provisions of drought code in present context.

 

9. Drought Relief should be made free from election code, because during 2004 – 05 drought relief programs stopped due announcement of parliamentary & assembly poll.