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National Food for work programme in Jharkhand

 

Background of the National Food for Work Programme

 

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in central in its pre poll election agenda committed to ensure Employment Guarantee in the Rural India. But, Rural Employment Guarantee Bill (REGB) has not been passed in the Parliament after the complete ion of one year in the Central Government. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government in State have lost its visioning and betrayed the State population by making the system more corrupt even more than during the regime of United Bihar Government. There is a lack of seriousness and sincerity in implementation of the Welfare and employment generation scheme by both the Government in the State.

          The Planning commission has identified 150 most backward districts of the country on the basis of prevalence of poverty indicated by SC/ST population, agricultural productivity per workers and agriculture wage rate. Most of them happen to be tribal districts. The National food for work programme (NFFW) is also a move towards wage employment guarantee. It is an experiment, which if successfully carried out, will give the government the necessary confidence to take responsibility for providing wage employment guarantee. Initially 150 districts have been identified and later it will be implemented gradually in the remaining districts of the country.

          The prime objective of the programme is to provide additional resources apart from the resources available under the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) to 150 most backward districts of the country so that generation of supplementary wage employment and providing of food- security through creation of need based economic, social and community assets in these districts is further intensified.

 

 

Methodology of the study

 

National food right Campaign in association with Gram Swaraj Abhiyan Palamau conducted its study on National Food for Work Programme at Manatu Block of Palamau District. Team of three members from Delhi School of Economics started its study in the Manatu Block. Mr. Sandip Rai, Ms. Eva Jayshree Kiro and Mr. Anjore Bhaskar all from Delhi School of Economics (team member)   stayed for 10 days in the Padma of Manatu Block with the help of local team members of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and   visited 15 sites in the Manatu block of Palamau District. Team members concluded its findings on 27th of May 2005 and presented the status of the programme before the Hon. Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Mr. Videsh Singh of Panki Vidhan Sabha Constituency and Hon. District Collector (DC) of Palamau Mr. Vinoy Kumar Choubey. More than three hours discussion held on the status of the National Food for Work Programme with both of them.

 

Area of Study

Study conducted in the Manatu block of Palamau district of Jharkhand. It was the purposive study as because Manatu in past and also in present facing the problem of food insecurity due to lack of employment opportunity among villagers. Initially team decided to carry out their study in surrounding villages of the Manatu Block from where starvation deaths had been registered during 2001 and onwards. But Team Members couldn’t be able to conduct its study as because work was not started in those places. Then, team shifted to the Tarhasi area of the Manatu block of Palamau District. Visits have been made in the villages Bhalogari, Chakandih, Mahari, Tarai, Nawadih, Saraidih, Tirwa, Gurha, Devdih and Tarhasi of Manatu Block of Palamau districts.

 

 

Status of NFFW in Manatu Block of Palamau District

 

As per the provisions of the NFFW-

Wage Component-

Minimum of 5 kg grains and minimum of 25% cash of total wage to be provided to the laborers but it is found in Chamandohari Ahar of Gurha Village (Gurha Panchayat) that workers those are working in the site Baidnath Mochi, Anhat Bhuiyan, Upendra kumar Ram, Chanrik Bhuiyan, Sukan Bhuiyan, Prabhu Bhiyan and Saryu Ram worked for 12 days and got the wages for the only Six Days. But they haven’t got minimum of 25% of cash component and minimum of 30kg ration against the payment for another 6 days work. They’re also not getting the minimum wages and the grain component under the programme. This is not only in Chamandohari Ahar but same case was found in Mahua Dohari, Khajurai ahar, Bhalogari Ahar,Dhobani Ahar, Pipraha ahar, Kewal ahar, and Doman ahar. Henceforth Programme is not able to ensure the grains and cash component to the workers of the Manatu.

 

Perspective plan-

As per the guideline it has been asked to make the perspective plan before starting work with the approval of the monitoring committee for the work. But during the visit it was found that perspective plan for 5 years has not been developed and without planning work has been started and also the planning process doesn’t established the transparency and gram sabha has not been taken in confidence for the work. There is a question on- how site have been selected? Who selected the Site? Why not Village level plan made in the presence of the Gram sabha? There is no answer; Only DC knows how it is developed. Then how community will take the responsibility for maintenance of assets why not DC will take the responsibility. Contractors, Middleman are not permitted to be engaged for execution as per the guideline-During the field visit it has been found that Gram Sevak is the departmental man who is executing the programme and they are the incharge of 3-4 works in the Panchayat and the Gram Sevak appointed the Munshi (Meth) for execution of work in the work site. These people are playing the role of contractors and middleman. This is the violation of the guideline of NFFW in the Manatu Block. This has been found in all the sites where the team visited. They are the indirect contractors but government is clear while making the agreement in the name of Gram Sevak. Gram Sevaks are not in the worksite they are in the Daltonganj town. This has been found in the villages- Bhalogari, Chakandih, Mahari, Tarai, Nawadih, Saraidih, Tirwa, Gurha, devdih and Tarhasi.

 

Muster rolls in worksite-

Out of 10 visited sites, team has found the muster roll in only Chamandohari Ahar. In other places when it was asked to the workers that where is Gram Sevak, they told he is at Daltonganj and he is maintaining the Muster roll in Daltonganj. When team analyzed the Muster roll for the Chamandohari ahar it was found that entries have been made for 5 kg ration (wheat and rice both) per day per workers, but workers are getting only rice and also 2-3 Kg ration maximum to individual workers. When team approached to the Block Development Officer for muster roll he provided only the list of works and denied to provide the muster roll.  There are huge irregularities on maintaining the muster roll and that’s why muster roll is not made public. This is the violation of ‘right to information’ in the work site.

 

Display of Signboards in the work site-

Guideline says that every site must have the signboard and all the information regarding the worksite should be displayed. But team didn’t find any display board in the worksite. There is no information to the villagers that what type of work and how much amount have been approved for the work. People are also ignorant of how many labors to be required for the work and what payment regulation for the work has been fixed.

 

Arrangements of drinking water, rest sheds and crèches-There is no provisions for drinking water, rest houses and the crèches in the worksite. These are the minimum and basic need at the work place. Government has not ensured the facility and also there is no interest by the government to provide it to the workers during the work. This is inhuman.

 

Land belonging to small and marginal farmers and SC/ST farmers can not be acquired for work under the programme- But it was found in Bhalogari Village, under the Tarai Panchayat, that work have been initiated in Hariohar Ahar and the villagers Sahdev Manjhi, Ramjee Bhuiyan, Dani Bhuiyan, Bhagwati Manjhi, Nanhuk Bhuiyan, Ramyeen Bhuiyan having the objection that work have been started in their Raiyatee Land. This is the violation and these SC families will be made landless in their village.

 

Employment register-

There is no Employment register in the worksite. Nothing has been mention that who are the workers? Whether they are belonging to the SC or ST? How much distance they are traveling for the work, total number of workers already worked for the worksite, etc.

 

Monitoring committee-

 It has been asked that work cannot be started unless monitoring committee formed. But the reality is that no monitoring committee has been formed for individual worksite. When it was asked to the villagers that if they have any information regarding the monitoring committee they told that they don’t have any information about the committee. Monitoring committee has not been formed and work started, which is the violation of the norms.

Inspection-

It has been in the guideline that the senior level administrative staff will make the visit to the field to see the implementation phase of the programme but no officers from the State and district level made their visit in the work site. Then how can we accept that programme will ensure the desired objective?

 

 

Discussion with MLA

When team met with the Hon’ MLA of the area and shared the information about irregularities in the programme he assured that he is vigil over the process and he will not bother any officer who will be found chargeable in the matter. But who knows what happen to those officer as because this is the common practice in the district.

 

Discussion with DC

When team visited the DC of the district he took it lightly but on telephone he summoned to the Manatu BDO to rectify the irregularities and to maintain the quality of work. But perhaps DC is also not able to do anything.

 

Findings

 

I    Migration registered from 82% village of the total surveyed villages during the survey period.

I    17% villages responded that villagers migrated due to scarcity of the food.

I    40% villages responded that migration is due to lack of employment in the village.

I    In 46% village, of the total surveyed villages, it was reported that number of households migrated outstation is up to 10 during the survey period.

I    In 24.3% villages, of the total surveyed villages, it was reported that women are also migrated for work to outstation during the survey period.

I    32.4% villages, of the total surveyed villages, it was reported that children have also migrated for work with family members during the survey period.

I    In 7.2% villages, it is reported that the number of households who are under the clutches of the moneylenders are 40.

I    Land mortgage in 85% villages of the total surveyed villages.

I    In 51.1% village of the total surveyed areas, it is responded that the number of household mortgaged their land are 5 due to drought situation.

I    In 38.7% village, it has been reported that the household up to 5 having only 10 days food security.

I    In 24.3% villages, it has been reported that the household up to 20 having only 20 days food security.

I    In 39.6% villages, it has been responded that household up to 5 are getting only one time meal.

I    During the period of survey it has been found that in 61.5% village Antyodaya ration was not provided to the beneficiaries.

I    During the period of survey it has been found that in 77.4% villages Annapurna ration was not disseminated to the beneficiaries.

I     34% villages in the surveyed area reported no employment generation work, though study conducted in the National Food for Work districts.

I     Numbers of Human days generated under the developmental scheme are 50 in 16.2% villages of the surveyed areas.

I     In 1.8% villages of the surveyed areas it has been reported that the number of human days created are 300.

I     19.8% villages responded that number of water irrigation sources dried are 5 during the survey period.

I     In 9.9% villages, it has been reported that price of the consumable items are increased by 20%.

I     26.1% villages it has been reported that price of the consumable items are increased by 10%.

I     National Food for Work Programme (NFFW) is not implemented as it was mentioned in the guideline and it is also not able to fulfill the objective of the programme.

 

Conclusion

 

Drought situation and its severity have been affected intensely in rural Jharkhand and this is taking shape of a permanent incidence in the state. Occurrence of continuous drought since 3 – 4 years, due to erratic and inadequate rainfall, has broken the backbone of the farmers as well as labourers. Numerous starvation deaths reported due to this and still some more families are standing on this position. Condition in Palamau and Santhal Pargana has been observed pathetic on this point and most of the starvation deaths arrived from these regions since 2001. Establishment of Jharkhand as a new state took place with an oath of social justice and upliftment of poor. After formation of Jharkhand enormous development projects, funds and opportunities were identified and even brought in practice. But, all these were of constructing huge buildings, establishing factories, widening of roads and other things, which are having no concern with the upliftment of the poor. No such effort or interest observed in this regard from the state government. Welfare schemes are observed inefficient to secure the vulnerable people. This year also reports arriving from the field are extremely horrible. Pre drought study concludes that situation in Palamau and Santhal Pargana is grim. Late monsoon and irregular rainfall in the State has created quandary for cultivation of the kharif crop in the State. A good number of population already migrated to outstation in search of work. Government Employment generation programme, like National Food for work (NFFW), couldn’t be able to benefit the target community as it was desired while launching the programme. Poor community couldn’t be able to get the employment under the scheme. Relief code has been kept aside by the State instead of using it to minimize the fatigue effect of drought. Government officials are unaware about the relief code. The State Government has adopted no measures for pre drought preparation. It is also being concluded that there is no proper planning to tackle the pre drought and post drought management. Every thing is in haphazard manner. It is not sure that this year government will be able to prevent starvation deaths, but there is no doubt that scarcity in livelihood means will surely upset the rural population.  

 

Case Studies of National Food for Work Programme (NFFW)

Case-1

Village- Nawadih,  Panchayat- Udaipura, Block- Manatu, District- Palamau

Name of the work- Belha Ahar, Date of Survey- 20/05/05

Work under National Food for Work Programme started 5 days before the commencement date of survey. 100 workers are working but 5 workers were present in the worksite. One girl named Basanti, Age 12 years was also found helping her parents in the worksite. Workers are totally unaware about that ‘under which scheme they are working’.  Workers are traveling ½ to 1 km to attend the worksite.  There was no criterion to select the workers for employment in the work under the NFFW Scheme. Every interested Person got the opportunity for the work in the programme. Men and Women both are getting the work under the scheme but wages are differing as because Payments are made according to the measuring of work. At local level payments are made according to the “Chukka” rate. Workers are not aware about the official wage rate and till now they have received 10kg of ration and Rs.20/- per individual workers as advance after the completion of 5 days of work. No wages have been paid against the work till now. Due to extreme hot temperature workers are working 5.00 a.m. morning to 11.00 a.m. till now measurement has not been made for the work. Munshi for the work are not maintaining the muster roll. Monitoring committee for the work has not been constituted for monitoring of the work. On 1/05/05 last meeting of the Gram sabha have been conducted in the village. Gram sabha is not having any idea about the programme and neither they are interested over the work. No inspector visited the worksite. Muster roll is not being filled at the field. Gram Sevak are maintaining the muster roll.

 

Case-2

Village- Sariadih, Panchayat- Udaipura, Block- Manatu, District- Palamau

Name of the work- Dhogani Ahar, Date of Survey- 20/05/05

Janki is a worker and is working in the worksite. Santosh Yadav, Munshi, for the NFFW programme was also present at the worksite. Questions asked from Janki and he responded- work starts 4.00 a.m. morning and 10.00-11.00 a.m. they return back to home. Work started on 14/5/05. He and his worker friends do not know anything about the Scheme. They are taking the amount of wages whatever provided by the Munshi. They are traveling 1-3 kms to reach the worksite. There is no need of ration card for the work. Machine for the work have not been utilized. There was no child labour in the worksite.  Workers for the village they are also working in other agriculture plot and also collecting and selling the firewood and earning money for their livelihood. Male agriculture labourers are getting Rs.30/- and one time food, whereas female workers are getting 2 kg of rice and two time meal. They are not getting any cash component. This is the existing case where labourers are working in the private land in agricultural season. The NFFW will benefit only those who have land nearer to the worksite. Dalits are not getting benefit out of the Ahar repairing work. No body knows about the official wages under the NFFW. As per their view grain component is good. If wages will be paid only as grain it will be nice. Whole day they are working only for ½ chukka of work. Advance has been paid at the rate of Rs.50/- to each individual. They have got the grain but don’t know how much they must get as per the entitlement fixed against the work under NFFW. Measurement has not been done of the work. There is no facility of water, medical aid, crèches and shed in the work place. There is no monitoring committee for the work. No body is coming for inspection of the work. Last Gram Sabha meeting organized 2 months before. No job card has been issued to the workers for the work. Till now no payments have been made to the workers against their work. No muster roll and attendance register is available in the worksite. Work has been initiated in the Ray tee (private land) land.

 

Case-3

Village- Tirwa,  Panchayat- Udaipur, Block- Manatu, District- Palamau

Name of the work- Pipraha Ahar, Date of Survey- 20/05/05

Women of the village went for Tendu Leave collection in the forest. Work started on Sunday 15/5/05. Workers don’t know how much wages to be paid against the work. The workers are traveling ½ km distance to attend the work. All are living in the same place. There were no criteria for the employment. The entire interested person got the work. There was no use of machine and child labour in the worksite. When there is no work then they are in the home and working for household work. At village they are getting Rs.30/- as cash and one time meal. Rs.40/- in been provided in case of no food. Works have been started in the private land. Workers are working on Chukka rate. Wages are different for male and female. Labourers are not aware about the wage rate for the programme. They also know that they will get grains but don’t know how much grain will be given for the work. Till now no measurement have been taken so that there is no question of payment. No facility of water, medical aid, crèche house and working shed is available. Monitoring committee has not been formed for the monitoring of the work. No muster roll till now.

 

Case-4

Village- Gurha, Block- Manatu, District- Palamau

Name of the work- Chamandohri

Workers do not know the name of the ahar where work already strated. Work started 14 days before the day of survey. Children were also working in the worksite. 2 ½ - 3kms of distance traveled by the workers to get the work. There was no criteria for getting the work under the NFFW. Machine has not been utilized for the work. Only labourers are working in the site.  Those who are living nearer to the work will only get benefit. For same work male and female are getting different wages. Workers are working under chukka system of payment. Vijay Mahto, gram Sevak is the work in-charge. Payment has been made in advance. No measurement till date. 100 Chouka of work already completed. Rs.600/- has been paid in groups of 3-4 workers for 10 Chukka.