Students of Birsa Residential School in Ulihatu take a break from studies on the eve of the tribal leader’s birth anniversary. Picture by Prashant Mitra
The day America celebrated its historic triumph over racial prejudice by electing its first black President, one of the many corners of the world that stood up to take note was in Jharkhand. The election of Barack Obama, a tribal of Kenyan origin, had a resonance in the capital with his ascension to power seen as a victory for the entire tribal population. “That feeling of being neglected is gone,” summed up the chief of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Party, one of the many tribal organisations that took to the streets to savour the moment. Obama’s signature tune was “change”. And he backed
it up with an infectious
“Yes we can” slogan. On the 8th Foundation Day of Jharkhand, let’s show the world we can change
Unclog the cities
Six years ago, the then deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, had laid a foundation stone for Greater Ranchi. Since then, chief ministers Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and now Guruji have made various soothing noises about the mythical city, and that’s it.
Significantly, Ranchi, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur are to get over Rs 10,000 crore under JNNURM from the Centre to upgrade their existing civic infrastructure.
If that’s cause for cheers, party poopers are many. A mere Rs 32 crore has trickled from the Centre for the Basic Services to Urban poor (BSUP) project that aims to provide integrated housing structures to Ranchi’s slum-dwellers.
In Ranchi, although more than Rs 100 crore has gone to prepare project reports for sewerage and drainage systems, water supply, traffic system management and so on, work is grounded as no government quite settled in since 2000. Dhanbad is shackled by sloth and in Jamshedpur, chances of bagging funds from JNNURM are slim due to a legal fracas between the state government and Tata Steel over leased land.
But yes, Jharkhand can. Through collective ownership — Birthday resolution # 1.
Stop the brain drain
Parents, who can afford to, demonstrate their love by practically driving their kids out of Jharkhand right after Plus Two. Reason: the state of the existing universities of Ranchi, Vinoba Bhave (Hazaribagh) and Sidho-Kanho-Murmu (Dumka). However, the yearly brain drain has not stopped the three universities from being overcrowded, with RU alone catering to over 1.5 lakh students.
The Union ministry of human resource development has given the nod to a central university and a branch of Indian Institute of Management (IIM). But the two other proposed universities — Neelambar-Pitambar (Daltonganj) and Kolhan (Chaibasa) - continue to remain on paper as no land has been allotted to the projects.
But yes, Jharkhand can. By getting into the brick-and-mortar mode — Birthday resolution # 2.
No craters please
Your backache says it all. Trips across the 135km stretch of NH 33 - known as the Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway — can be used by tyre companies to demonstrate their toughness under extreme conditions.
An unholy nexus between contractors, politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats is cited as the reason behind the cratered face of over 1,500km of national highways and over 6,000km of state highways. Recently, agencies like Asian Development Bank (ADB) and IL&FS have been roped in to fund the roads projects.
But yes, Jharkhand can. By banning air travel for the powers-that-be, so that their backache cures the potholes and the craters — Birthday resolution # 3.
Be a tourist magnet
Who was the last couple honeymooning in the state’s forests? Chances are you don’t know any. The forests in God’s original country are not emerald, but red. Extremists have either blown up or captured forest guesthouses in tourist hotspots like Betla Reserved Forest, the national park at Hazaribagh, and the Saal forests of Saranda. The red hand deters tourists from exploring Jharkhand’s rugged beauty and filling state coffers with tourist revenue.
The absence of tourist infrastructure — star hotels, budget lodges and restaurants, washrooms, an intra-state transport network —adds insult to injury.
But yes, Jharkhand can. By gearing its state machinery and grassroots people to make Jharkhand a tourist magnet —Birthday resolution # 4.
lGet the river warriors
The Damodar valley is referred by many as Ruhr of India as three integrated steel plants (Bokaro, Burnpur and Durgapur) of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), mines of Coal India subsidiaries like Central Coalfields Ltd and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. And other factories are located in the valley. But the Damodar river itself? Little better than a drain.
A study by the “Save Damodar movement” has concluded that the 592km river is one of the most polluted in India, force-fed with chemicals, mine rejects and toxic effluents.
But yes, Jharkhand can. By making clean Damodar a green priority — Birthday resolution # 5.
Woo the Big Daddies
Tata Steel came to Jharkhand over a century ago, stayed and prospered. But when Mamata Banerjee put brakes on the Nano project in neighbouring Bengal, the people’s car didn’t stop at Jharkhand. Where are the big ticket investors? Though the state has signed MoUs worth more than Rs 2.60 lakh crore, none, except the Jindal Steel and Power, have so far bothered to set up shop here. The state needs to support the more serious players, including ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel to set up their plants.
A realistic balance between economic and tribal interests, through transparent dialogue, a clear R&R policy and judicious allotment of coal mines and iron ore blocks is what the doctor ordered.
But yes, Jharkhand can. Through inclusive empowerment of all stakeholders — Birthday resolution # 6.
Turn on the lights
Candles for the poor, inverters for the rich, power for half a day. With an average power generation of 400MW every day against a peak time demand of 800MW plus, calculations are easy. In the near future, demand for power will peak to 1,600MW, if all the 32,000 villages are electrified within 2012.
Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (TVNL) contributes 300MW to 400MW against an installed capacity of 440MW. But work on additional expansion of 660MW is held up since the past five years as the state government continues to dither about giving a counter guarantee to Czech firm Skoda. The 30-year-old generating station at Patratu struggles to generate 40 to 100MW against an installed capacity of 840MW. A complete overhaul is the only solution. Over the past five years, the state government signed 27 MoUs with power majors like Tata Power, Calcutta Electric Supply Company, Damodar Valley Corporation, National Thermal Power Corporation, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd etc. to set up power plants in the state that would have contributed more than 40,000MW. But land?
But yes, Jharkhand can. By installing at least one new 1,000MW power plant for starters — Birthday resolution # 7.
Reach for a star
R. Madhavan, Simone Singh, Tanushree Dutta, Meiyan Chang, Puja Singh, Vijay Kumar Singh, Shraddha Das, Rajdeep Chatterjee — stars and wannashines. And one bonafide biggie — director Imtiaz Ali. Inspiration for many a thousand dreams. But where’s the space to nurture them?
The much-touted cultural richness of the state needs a state-of-the-art training ground for its entertainers. Let us not send all our strugglers to Mumbai unprepared. And let us keep some talents for Jollywood, which, umm, er, is supposedly the state’s film industry that no one knows much about.
But yes, Jharkhand can. By establishing a training hub for entertainers — not another foundation stone please — Birthday resolution # 8.