Voice From The Valley Of Hunger
Reporter: Jayadev Kar
When things fall apart starts the process of disintegration. This is what happened in the district of Bolangir, the valley of hunger. Four potential years have passed since the enunciation of NREGA in the country, but this has virtually failed in the district of Bolangir because of the apathy inflicted by district administration upon the beneficiaries. It was hoped that this much predicted project would wipe away sorrows and sufferings from millions of Indians, but nothing so has happened even if the name has been changed as MGNREGA. Here is the depiction of the naked truth. Take the example of Tankapani panchayat of Khaprakhol Block, 100 km away from the district headquarter town of Bolangir. The population is more than 3000 in this GP and most of the people are landless. Either they work as bonded labor in double crop area, that is the undivided district of Sambalpur or they go to Andhraprades to make brick and suffers from plethora of plight. Out of these 3000 people only 1560 have got job card where as only 9% have got job so far and that is less than 100 days which is lower than their due. Nearly 40% job card holders have migrated to Telengana area to make bricks. People are willing to work but no work is provided to them. Some time it so happens that machines are used in lieu of men, which is again the violation of the law of the land. When asked about the reason for this precarious situation many secret things were revealed.
The first reason is that every year the work under MGNREGA starts in the month of December and January where as the majority migrate soon after Nuakhai and the rest after the days followed by Durga Puja. (Nuakhai is an agrarian festival observed throughout western Orissa at the time of yielding crop. And here starts the tragedy; the majority is devoid of getting the benefit. When this reporter, Jayadev Kar asked the villagers they replied that the work should start in the month of September and October, so that we could get work and the migration could also be checked.
The second thing why this project has failed is the delay of payment to the beneficiaries. They should be paid within seven days after the completion of work, but this law is again violated and the district administration has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to this problem, the villagers added.
The third thing which is more tantamount and grave than the above two is that the money provided under MGNREGA stand nowhere before the money pumped by the Dalals to take people out of their native land. If a family works for 100 days then they will get nearly 9000/- . Remember here that no one will get more than 100 days of works, because the law has been formed in that manner. In this little amount of money it is difficult to fend a family of 4-5 members. On the other hand they get nearly 25,000/- to 30,000/- from the Dalals if they nod for migration to Andhrapradesh.
So the MGNREGA fails here leaving the people to bite the dust.
Coming down heavily upon this policy the Sarpanch of Tankapani Panchayat speaks that every family gets only one Job Card. If that particular family consist of 5 members then their work days end within 20 days, as all 5 members work. Now it is difficult to arrange another Job card for that family, this is where things fall apart and starts the evil ramification of starvation death and the entire district turns into the valley of hunger. This is not the story of Khaprakhol Block, rather all the 14 Blocks of the district are under this problem.