Farmers burning stubble in fields will be deprived of government facilities: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar


PATNA: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday expressed concern over the rising trend of farmers in Bihar setting agricultural residue on fire and warned the cultivators burning stubble in fields will be deprived of the facilities provided by the state government.

Underscoring the adverse impact of stubble burning on the environment, he instructed agriculture department officials to launch a campaign to end the practise.

“Farmers burning stubble (crop residue) in their fields will be deprived of facilities being given by the state government,” Kumar said while inuagurating a two-day international conference on “Crop Residue Management” here.

The event was organised jointly by the state’s agriculture department and Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour (Bhagalpur).

The state government is providing every possible help to the farmers in the state, he said adding power is supplied to them at a rate of 75 paise per unit.

In addition, the state is giving Rs 60 as subsidy on every litre of diesel.

Earlier, the practice of stubble burning was prevalent in Delhi and Punjab causing bad impact on Delhi’s environment, he said while adding that the custom has now gained prevalence in some parts of the state.

“Farmers need to be convinced that stubble burning not only has its adverse impact on productivity but also has its effect on environment. Farmers need to be convinced that the proper use of stubble will increase their income too,” the CM said.

Kisan Salahkars (agriculture advisors) and representatives from agricultural institutions should convince the farmers about the ill-effects of burning stubble/crop residue and create awareness among them against it, he said.

Kumar cited the rainfall figures to highlight the impact of the climate change Bihar has witnessed in past few years.

Earlier, the state used to witness an average rainfall between 1200-1500 mm which has came down to 750 mm last year, he said.

The average rainfall of the past 30 years, barring this year, is 1027 mm out of which 900 mm was recorded in the past 13 years.

He asked officials to show “short film” to the farmers incorporating valuable suggestions given by the agriculture scientists and experts at the conference.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, state Agriculture minister Prem Kumar, farm scientist Dr Mangla Rai, Dr Eric Hutner of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACAIR) and Bihar agriculture department secretary N Sarvan Kumar also addressed the conference.

Prominent among those who participated in the event included- Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University, Pusa (Samastipur) Vice Chancellor Dr R C Srivastava, his counterpart in Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour (Bhagalpur) Ajay Kumar Singh, CM’s Principal Secretary Chanchal Kumar and Bihar State Pollution Control Board Chairman Dr Ashok Ghosh.

Farmers from Bengal reap Jharkhand Durga Puja harvest


Deepak Jana belongs to a family of farmers in Contai of Bengal’s East Midnapore district but he is more interested in working as a pandal decorator because it pays the 30-year-old more than what he earns from farming and also gives him the pleasure of being an ace craftsman.

Most artisans from East and West Midnapore earn Rs 300 to Rs 400 per eight hours of work in giving shape to Durga Puja pandals in Jamshedpur and other parts of Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar. More than 2,000 workers from the two Bengal districts come to the steel city during the festive season.

According to members of Jamshedpur Durga Puja Kendriya Samiti, there are about 50 big-budget Puja committees known for spending huge amounts on pandal decoration. In the steel city, almost all high-budget, well-known pandals are made by Midnapore-based tent houses and decorators; most of them are farmers who swap their profession in search of creative satisfaction and some quick money in the festive season. Competition among the committees has led for demand for the best decorators from the twin districts, considered hubs of decorators in general and pandal makers in particular.

“Most of the workers who come work under contractors are farmers,” said Deepak, who has done the pandal for Central Sarbajanin Durga Puja in Sonari as a part of Basanti Decorators from Contai. “My family grows vegetables and pulses in Contai but I travel for pandal making because it is good money and also I love the creative part. Once the deal is finalised between the puja committee and the decorator, they hire us for the work. I went to Odisha last year. I think what committees like is the skill that we possess but that comes with practice.”

Sabyasachi Jana, the concept designer of Parbati Decorators from Mecheda, East Midnapore, is the lead designer of the Durga Puja of the Jairam Youth Sporting Club in Adityapur that has this year showcased how manmade pollution is the cause of humankind’s own devastation. The Telegraph had reported on Friday how the pandal has attracted eyeballs and criticism in equal measure because it is made up of a million plastic bags.

“We have over 1,200 tent houses in East Midnapore only who are always busy in work across the eastern part of the country,” Sabyasachi said. “Most of the workers are farmers but due to low income, a huge number of people have turned to this profession which makes you skilled and gives you easy money in a couple of months.”

Most pandal decorators have teams that include masons, carpenters, electricians and painters to take care of various facets of pandal making such as building the structure, covering it with cloth, artwork, painting, and lighting. Most pandal makers are self-taught or learn the skills by working as apprentices for others.

But why not Jharkhand-based decorators?

“There are a couple of reasons,” said Arun Singh, secretary of Jamshedpur Durga Puja Kendriya Samiti. “First, you don’t find craftsmen of that calibre in Jharkhand. Second, we have found a lack of professionalism here and thus committees have to depend on an alternative way which is better even if it is some times expensive. This is not just the case of decorators but also with dhakis who come from Bengal.”

There is some work that does go to local decorators. For instance, the Utkal Durga Puja Committee in Kadma, which has India’s Moon mission as its theme, divided the work between a local decorator and one from Contai.

“The primary ply work was done by 20 craftsmen from Contai because they are the ones who can do it best,” said Siphon Mohanty, vice president of Utkal Durga Puja Committee, Kadma. “They are skilled and are known for their work. It is not only Jamshedpur but these decorators from Midnapore cater to the entire Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha too. Some even go to Calcutta because of their work.”

PM Modi to launch farmers’ pension scheme in Ranchi on Sept 12


Ranchi, Sep 10 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would launch three national level and two state level schemes from here on September 12.

“The Prime Minister will launch three national and two state level schemes here on September 12. The first scheme is Kisan Mandhan Yojna, under which farmers will get Rs 3,000 pension; the second is laying the foundation stone for 462 Eklavya schools exclusively for quality education; the third is a pension scheme for small shopkeepers,” the Chief Minister said in a press conference here on Tuesday.

Das said that under the farmer’s scheme, more than one lakh farmers have been registered in the state. As per the available data, Jharkhand is fifth largest state in terms of farmers pension registration. Farmers between the age of 18 and 40 years will get the benefits of the pension scheme after turning 60, Das said.

“Similarly, small shopkeepers between the age of 18 and 40 years will be eligible to get pension after turning 60. The small shopkeepers registered with the government will get Rs 3,000 pension per month. Of the 462 Eklavya schools, 69 will be set up in Jharkhand for providing quality education to the tribal children.

“The Prime Minister will also inaugurate the two state level schemes. First, the inauguration of the state Assembly building and the second is a multi-modal terminal at Sahebganj,” said the Chief Minister.

Jharkhand is set to get it’s own Assembly building, which has been constructed on a 39-acre land costing Rs 465 crore. It will have a sitting capacity of 162 legislators.

Modi will also lay the foundation stone for the new Secretariat which will be constructed at a cost of Rs 1,238 crore on 68 acres of land.

The Prime Minister will also dedicate to the nation India’s second riverine multi-modal terminal in Sahibganj built at a cost of Rs 290 crore in a record time of about two years.

Modi had himself laid the foundation stone for the IWAI’s Sahibganj multi-modal terminal (MMT) in April, 2017. It is the second of the three multi-modal terminals being constructed on river Ganga under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). In November 2018, the Prime Minister had inaugurated the MMT at Varanasi.

The MMT at Sahibganj will open up the industries of Jharkhand and Bihar to the global market and provide Indo-Nepal cargo connectivity through waterways route.

Vice President Naidu launches state DBT scheme for farmers in Jharkhand


RANCHI, Aug 10: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday launched the Jharkhand Government’s ‘Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojana’ under which money would be directly transferred into the bank accounts of farmers in the state.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries having farm land of less than one acre to five acres, will get Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 in their bank accounts.
As soon as Naidu launched the scheme, money was transferred into the bank accounts of farmers, and some them showed their mobile phones with the money transfer message to the vice-president.

“I saw the happiness in the face of the farmers who showed me the message on their mobile phones. I congratulate the government and the farmers on the occasion,” Naidu said.

He said the Centre has taken a pledge to double the income of farmers by 2022 and in that endeavour, the government is continuously increasing minimum support price (MSP) for 23 farm produce.

Calling for conservation of rainwater in view of depletion of ground water, Naidu said conservation of rainwater should be made people’s movement and hoped that farmers would use traditional method to help conserve ground water.

Praising the Centre and the state government’s efforts in protecting the interests of “annadata” (food providers), Naidu stressed on the importance of developing village and recalled the efforts made by him when he was the Union Rural Development minister.

“You need to have a structural change in the agricultural sector, and it should be the top priority,” he said.

According to an official statement, under the Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojana, approximately 35 lakh farmers will be benefited and by September/October and Rs 3,000 crore would be sent in the accounts of the beneficiaries.

The launching ceremony was also held in other 23 districts, apart from Ranchi.

Under the scheme, Rs 5,000 is given to those farmers having one acre or less agricultural land, Rs 10,000 to those having two acres, Rs 15,000 for having three acres, Rs 20,000 for having four acres and Rs 25,000 for having five acres of agricultural land. This is scheme apart from the benefits the farmers are getting under Centre’s PM-Kisan Yojana. (PTI)

Jharkhand stares at drought with 40% rainfall deficit


Heavy showers, which had lashed some areas of Jharkhand a few days ago, had given local farmers hopes of more rains. But the rain clouds seem to have given a go-by to the state for the time being, pushing the farmers into distress as only 10 days of the sowing season are left.

According to the Met Department, the average rainfall in Jharkhand is so far deficit by 40 per cent. Since there is lack of rainfall in the majority of districts, agricultural work has been adversely hit. Even if it rains the next week, it is unlikely that sowing targets would be achieved.

In the last 24 hours, Ranchi and few other districts have received less than 10 mm of rainfall. Scientists at the local Met Department say that there has been lack of monsoon activity in the Bay of Bengal. On some occasions, however, low pressure did form but the system was weak and insufficient to cause rainfall. Despite the state remaining mostly under cloud cover, it never rained properly.

Weather scientist SD Kotal of the Met Department said that it has not rained in Jharkhand as per expectations. He, however, said that rains are expected in the state in the next four days as a new low pressure area is likely to develop in the Bay of Bengal.

Sahibganj district is the only exception which has received more than 14 per cent of average rainfall at 793.2 mm. In other districts like Dumka, Jamtara, Kodema, Lohardaga and Palamu rainfall has been less than 24 per cent while the situation was worse in Khunti, Godda, Chatra, Hazaribagh, Latehar, Garhwa, Pakur, Ranchi, among others.

Such has been the extent of the monsoon let down that in the two months after it hit the state, sowing of paddy could only be taken up in 26 per cent of the area.

Crop failed due to lack of rain, Jharkhand farmer hangs self


“Depressed” over his worsening financial condition, a 50-year-old farmer allegedly hanged himself at his home in Dhadhauli village, in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, on Monday night, it emerged on Wednesday.

Family members said Shiva Khariya had sown paddy but it failed due to lack of rain, which deteriorated his “mental condition”.

Deputy Commissioner Gumla Shashi Ranjan, however, said stress may not be the only reason behind the suicide. “He was also an alcoholic, and over the last few days had fever. He did not eat anything.”

Khariya’s family was a beneficiary of the LPG connection under the Central government’s Ujjwala scheme, Ranjan added.

This came days after a farmer from Ranchi district allegedly killed himself, with his family claiming that the government authorities did not clear dues for building materials for a well dug on his land under the Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Khariya’s wife Mangri Devi said he had mortgaged land for their son and daughter’s weddings. She said: “Farming is limited to the three-four months during the monsoon; there is no water the rest of the year. Over the years, we survived on free ration and some rice and urad dal produced on our farm. Our sons go out for work, but the money they send home is not sufficient.”

Land records show Khariya owned 13 acres of land; the family said half of that had been “mortgaged”.

Khariya’s son Birsa, 25, said his father did not eat the rice and starch cooked at home on Monday night and went to sleep. “We found his body, hanging, the next day,” he said.

The family has an MNREGA job card but has not taken any job for the last five years, with family members claiming that the low wages and a bigger payment cycles dissuade them.

Village head Sushila Soren said most people in all three villages under Kasira panchayat are farmers but people temporarily leave for other areas in search of jobs after the monsoon. “Under MGNREGA, payment cycles have been absurdly delayed by more than 45-60 days. Even when money comes, there there is misdirection of wages and people do not get it. This has led to a belief that there will be no payment under MGNREGA,” Soren said.

Panchayat secretary Ravindra Kashyap said farmers who had availed schemes such as well construction in 2017-18 have not received material payments yet.

But maintaining that MGNREGA payment error in Gumla is “less than 1 per cent”, the DC, Ranjan, said, “There are some problems regarding material payments, but the dues are cleared periodically.”

Farmers in Bihar Fear Another Drought


Patna: Jogendar Mandal and his co-villager Kamlesh Yadav are worried over poor monsoon even as of the first week of July. Both are marginal farmer of Banka district, they fear another drought this year with state recorded 41 percent less than the normal rainfalls in June and 43 percent less than normal rainfall in July so far ,as per the rainfall report of Indian Meteorological Department.

Mandal and Yadav are two of thousands of farmers of Banka, one of the districts facing drought-like conditions — Jamui, Bhagalpur, Munger and Lakhisarai being among the other affected districts.

“We have no idea or clue to predict weather, but dry spell so far during the time of heavy rains indicate that something is bad in-store for us. Rain gods are giving us sleepless nights this time like last year. It appears we may face another drought,” said Mandal, in his early 40s, sitting on a locally made bamboo cot. He told Newsclick that thanks to mobile phones, he has been able to get connected to outside his village.

Poor monsoon in Bihar, as of July 4, has affected paddy sowing — triggered fears of another drought among millions of the state’s farmers, agriculture scientists and officials.

Even chief minister Nitish Kumar recently said he feared another spell of drought in Bihar. Taking the issue of dry spell and water crisis seriously in Bihar, the state government and state legislature have decided to organise a special debate on July 13 in the central hall of the state Assembly here to discuss the issue and measures to tackle the challenge by taking feedback from legislators.

With water problems creating havoc among people, on the directive of chief minister Nitish Kumar a special debate would be held. All legislators including ruling parties and opposition will attend and will present ground reality of water problems in their respective constituencies before the government.

“Scanty monsoon rains in Bihar have badly affected paddy sowing. Till date, 61.73% paddy seedling has been reported. But situation is very bad in Bhagalpur and Munger commissionary as only 5% paddy seedling has been reported,” said an agriculture officer.

The state government has targetted paddy cultivation on 33 lakh hectares this year. But till date, paddy seedlings have been reported on about 3.30 lakh hectares.

“What is alarming is that paddy saplings transplantation delayed, so far transplantation is reported in only 93,000 hectares, it is 2.83% of the targetted. Besides, no sapling transplantation started in 27 of 38 districts,” another official told Newsclick here.

“Farmers are also getting restless about transplanting paddy seedlings in view of the lack of water,” said Mandal. He said that paddy seedlings were badly hit in over two dozen districts. All these districts are facing drought-like situation, he said. The state government would provide diesel to farmers at subsidised rates under a contingency plan to cope with the drought-like situation, he added.

According to government’s own data, nearly two-thirds of Bihar’s population of 11 crore are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

Not only that, nearly two-thirds of all agricultural activity in the state is dependent on the rains. Most of them are small and marginal farmers.

For most of the state’s population, therefore, a good monsoon is often the difference between life and death.

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar’s economy, employing 81% of the workforce and generating nearly 42% of the state’s domestic product, according to the state government’s figures. About 76% of Bihar’s population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood.

Reports reaching Patna said unlike the past, there is no water for irrigation in the canals. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from the Sone river, brought through canals.

A few farmers have managed to save paddy seeds sown last month by pumping ground water and others are trying to do the same now.

West Singhbhum farmers wary of Jharkhand government’s agriculture incentive scheme


Tribal farmers of Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district want to stay out of the state government’s flagship scheme Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirvad Yojana (MMKAY), fearing that their land would be acquired if they share land details to avail the monetary support under the state government scheme.

Confusion reigned all around the poor tribal population in the hinterlands after 2017, when the state’s BJP-led Raghubar Das government attempted to amend the British-era tenancy laws – Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT), as well as the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. Though the government could not amend the CNT and SPT Acts, it successfully brought changes in the Land Acquisition Act to waive off the social impact assessment (SIA) clause for land acquisition, which enables the government to acquire land for specific purposes such as building of schools, colleges or hospitals.

The opposition parties, however, had fought tooth and nail to prevent the government from amending the laws in 2017. It charged the government of acting on behalf of corporate interests to acquire tribal land. A message, thus, was spread among tribal population that the government wanted to alienate them from their land.

The misinformation became so deep-rooted that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to assure tribal voters in West Singhbhum during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaigns that no one would acquire their land.

Eyeing the assembly elections scheduled to be held in November-December this year, the BJP dispensation in the state has fixed a deadline for the state bureaucracy to disburse agriculture incentives announced by the government for fiscal 2019-20.

The state government, in line with the centre’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PMKSNY), had also announced that small and marginal landholders having landholdings up to five acres, will get an annual incentive of Rs 5,000 per acre for Kharif crop production.

But residents of many tribal villages under Manjhari, Gudri, Sonua, Bandhgaon, Manoharpur, Noamundi, Hatgamharia, Jhinkpani and other blocks in West Singhbhum district expressed their concern and reluctance to avail the monetary benefits under the scheme. They believe that government would take over their land if they share land details to avail the financial benefits under MMKAY.

Some residents of Jhangiburu villager in Manjhari block had even sent a letter to the deputy commissioner (DC) last week to raise their concerns.

Ram Soren, a Kisan Mitra who is supposed to collect villagers’ application in Noamundi Basti under Noamundi block said, “Out of around 50 farmers in his village, only 25 have applied for the monetary benefits.”

“Villagers are saying that the government did not give them benefits under the Indira Aawas Yojana and other schemes as promised earlier. Now it is luring the tribal people with MMKAY to acquire their plots in the name of financial support,” Soren said.

West Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) Arava Rajkamal, however, on June 10 had issued letters to 217 mukhiyas (village head), asking them to convince people not to get swayed by rumours. He had also sent a team of district administration to Jhangiburu village to sensitise the villagers.

On Thursday, the DC along with other officials, visited Asura village in Jhinkpani block to convince people to apply and avail the financial assistance that would help them in purchasing seeds, pesticides and other goods for better agricultural production.

“Farmers are free to use the said money for agricultural purposes and the administration is not going to ask for fund utility proof,” DC Rajkamal said.

He informed that out of 1.5 lakh beneficiary farmers in the district, only 38,819 farmers have so far applied for the scheme. As many as 12,800 farmers had received the first instalment of Rs 2000 out of Rs 6,000 annual benefit under PMKSNY. 35,000 more farmers have now applied.

“It is a rumour that farmers’ lands would be acquired or transferred if they furnish land details in Form C. Through the forms, we are just taking their approval for depositing respective amount directly to their bank accounts,” Rajkamal said.

“A group of people with antidevelopment mindset have been spreading rumors. Strict legal action would be taken against those involved.”