Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Vanaik 2008 (NREGA and Deathof Tapas Soren)

Vanaik 2008 (NREGA and Deathof Tapas Soren)

Ratings: (0)|Views: 22 |Likes:
Published by rozgar
Uploaded from Google Docs
Uploaded from Google Docs

More info:

Published by: rozgar on Mar 10, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

03/10/2011

pdf

text

original

 
commentary
july 26, 2008
EPW
 
Economic & Political
Weekly
8
nreGa d h Dh f tps S
Anish Vanaik
Tapas Soren, a tribal o Birakhapin Jharkhand, committedsel-immolation recently,impoverished by the constantdemand or bribes by localocials or work done underthe National Rural EmploymentGuarantee Act. His death soonater the murder o Lalit Mehtawho had exposed corruption in
NREGA
schemes in Palamu is adamning comment on how thescheme is being implemented inJharkhand.
O
n the morning o July 2, 2008,Tapas Soren set himsel ablaze atCharhi Chowk in Hazaribagh.
1
 Just beore taking this ultimately atalstep he was heard shouting “aur anyay nahi sahenge” (I will not tolerate any more injustice).
2
Only a couple o hoursbeore these events, Soren had met theblock development ocer (
BDO
) o Churchu and the panchayat sevak o hisgram panchayat to discuss mattersrelating to a 20 t well that was beingconstructed on his land under theNational Rural Employment GuaranteeAct (
NREGA
). That the
NREGA
, designedto benet people like Tapas, couldbe the precipitant o such a calamity speaks o a particularly grave state o aairs with respect to its implementationin Jharkhand.Hazaribagh was among the rst batcho districts where the
NREGA
was imple-mented. This means that it has been oper-ative or almost three years. Birakhap(where Tapas lived) is exactly the kind o village where it was envisioned as havingthe greatest impact. Dilip, Tapas’ elderbrother described the struggles involvedin making ends meet in Birakhap. Theamily owns and works a total o 4.54acres o land. The single crop that they are able to produce in the year enablesthem to run their households oraround our months. The rest o the yearthey are orced to look or employmentelsewhere. This is a dicult task.Birakhap has no road: a river must becrossed to reach one. The search or work oten led Dilip and Tapas ar rom hometo where it was available – on roads orwith contractors in the region. Just asoten, employment was not available atall.
NREGA
would seem tailor-made orTapas, Dilip and others in their village. Tobe assured o work at decent wages nearhome would be a combination thatseemed wonderul to the point o beingan illusion.
a Isidius P
That is because or the most part it is anillusion. Employment generation in Haz-aribagh has been quite low. In 2007-08,the average employment generated or the1.23 lakh households that demanded work was only around 34 days.
3
This year, untilJune, only 31,658 households have beenprovided with employment.
4
These macrostatistics also nd refection in Tapas’story. Dilip pointed out that
NREGA
workshad only opened in December andJanuary and no new ones were takenup in the summer, when work is mostacutely needed.Even when employment was oered,there were delays in wage payments.Against the legal stipulation o paymentwithin 15 days, unds or payment o wages were oten released only 40 to 50days ater works had been completed.
5
 This means that when alternative employ-ment was available, workers would chooseto leave an
NREGA
worksite or immediatewages. At Tapas’ own well, work had beengoing on or almost three months,although, given the delays in release o unds to Tapas, there was rarely a week inwhich work would be carried out or morethan three or our days at a stretch. Dilipremarked that workers would simply leavework on the well or other kind o employ-ment i it was available in the area.While delays in wage payments andthe low volume o works might simply beput down to bureaucratic slowness, thepattern in which works were taken upsuggests something ar more insidious.Jemma Mendis, an activist o theChhotanagpur Adivasi Seva Samiti whichworks in the area, points out that in theour tribal hamlets o Sarabaha revenuevillage only two pond excavation worksand the well on Tapas’ eld had ever beensanctioned. In the one predominantly non-tribal hamlet, no less than 26 wellshad been sanctioned. The reason or thisstark contrast, she explained, was thatthere is a system o kickbacks running allthe way up the administrative hierarchy.The standard price or having a well
Anish Vanaik (
anish.vanaik@gmail.com
) isinvolved in eld surveys o the NREGA initiated by the G B Pant Social ScienceInstitute, Allahabad.
 
commentary 
Economic & Political
Weekly
 
EPW
july 26, 2008
9
sanctioned on one’s land is Rs 10,000.Tapas against the judgment o his advisershad paid that much and more. Mendispoints out that this kind o system simply eliminates the poor rom this scheme.Those with some capital o their own canaord to get works sanctioned on theirland, and even pay labourers somethingon a weekly basis while waiting or theadministration to release unds (suchweekly payments are typically less thanthe stipulated minimum wage, the dier-ence is usually pocketed by those whohave “advanced” money).
ep Piss, Gsd Pls
These were the orces that trapped TapasSoren. He lived in a hamlet that was remoteand backward; one which was seen by o-cials like the panchayat sevak and
BDO
assusceptible to exploitation on a regularbasis: be it the public distribution system(
PDS
), electricity supply, or the
NREGA
. AsDilip put it, it was a place where politicianspromised much, but little was everdelivered without greasing a palm. Thiswas the “anyay” that Tapas was protestingagainst. Tapas had come up against such“anyay” and elt its humiliating sting oten.The well was a source o hope thatirrigation in their eld might slowly raisethe yield and improve lie somewhat.Ater paying Rs 15,000 in bribes, Tapashad little money to keep its constructiongoing smoothly. He was entirely dependentupon the Rs 1,63,000, that had been sanc-tioned or the costs o the well and wasbeing deposited piecemeal according tothe whims o the authorities.
6
He had with-drawn money amounting to Rs 70,000 onthree occasions to pay labourers, but couldnot avoid delays. Faced with these delays,the 10 labourers working on the well –including Dilip and Tapas – were reluctantto commit more than the time that they could take o rom other work. And whenthey struck rock in the course o digging,work came to a near standstill.Jemma Mendis says Tapas was caughtbetween three orces. On the one handwere the labourers – his neighbours andrelatives – who had not been paid andwere unable to break through the rocky earth. On the other stood the
BDO
andauthorities who held Tapas responsible ornot being able to complete the project. Thetriangle o pressures was completed by their demand or a steady stream o kick-backs. On July 1, expecting the nal instal-ment o the money to pay labourers, Tapaswent to the bank where he was told thatthere was no money in the account – it hadbeen deposited and withdrawn entirely without his knowledge. Dilip says thatTapas was distraught and had gone todiscuss this with the panchayat sevak and
BDO
on the morning o July 2. Whattranspired there is not known. What isknown is that he returned rom the meet-ing when the rest o the amily was work-ing in the eld, took a bottle o keroseneand proceeded to Charhi Chowk, settingin motion the course o events that wouldlead to his death in a hospital bed sixpainul days later.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->