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Ganga is fast eroding agricultural lands and habitations in Sahibganj district

Hundreds of families have been rendered homeless as the River Ganga is fast eroding agricultural lands and habitations in Jharkhand's Sahibganj district.


Scores of families have lost all their agricultural lands and their huts, following which they have sought shelter on the roadside.


"We are living on the roads now. Our children are unable to go to their schools; most of the roads are destroyed. Now we have just one thing to say that whatever has been destroyed is gone, but special arrangements should be made to restore the remaining land, so that our people can live here without any fear," said Biren Biswas, a victim.

The affected people are also complaining about government apathy, urged government to do something to save the remaining patches, so that they could till on whatever is left for their livelihood.


On their part, the concerned authorities have contended that they have been working on construction of embankments and the displaced have been taken care of "The displaced can now make permanent houses near the banks of the river. The work that we have been doing for the displaced is successful. It was done in various villages, in the year 2004-2005. We had worked on a permanent solution and it is now functional," said Rajendra Prasad, Assistant Engineer of Rajmahal Water Resources Department. (ANI)

Superstitions keep patients away from healthcare programmes in Sahebganj, Koderma, Gumla, Godda, Garwha and Latehar


There is a cure for almost every medical condition. But how do health officials tackle superstitions?


With only 30 per cent of womenfolk living in rural areas turning up for immunisation programmes, state health officials have conceded that superstitions are keeping them away. And that is making it difficult for them to administer treatment or spread awareness among them.


For instance, many expecting mothers are afraid of taking the tetanus toxoid vaccine as they believe that it will lead to abortion or infertility, which can lead to being ostracised from society.


Such beliefs, health workers have found, were prevalent among residents of Sahebganj, Koderma, Gumla, Godda, Garwha and Latehar districts. However, an NGO, USAID, under its programme Vistaar, is working towards improving reproductive and child health in these regions through survival programmes, in association with state departments.


R Choudhary, the team leader associated with the project, agreed that superstitious beliefs were adversely affecting healthcare programmes. "We have been working in the rural healthcare sector for the past six months and so far the results haven't been very encouraging," she rued.


Many tribal women refused to take iron folic acid tablets. "Around 80 per cent of women suffer from anaemia but they refuse to take pills as they feel it would make them weaker," she said.


Immunisation of infants and children was another battle for health officials. "There are limited health services available. Women and children have to suffer due to low literacy rate and lack of decision-making powers. Besides, the infant mortality rate (IMR) is quite high. For example, in Sahebganj it is as high as 147 per 1,000 births," she said.


High death rate is mainly due to low birth weight, lack of basic knowledge among mothers, poverty, and inaccessibility to healthcare facilities and infectious diseases such as malaria and kala-azar.


Besides, nurses and midwives have to fight superstitions too. "We want to improve access to quality maternal and new-born care, improve nutrition and treat infectious diseases," the team leader said.


If only patients could hold on to this belief.


Ranchi, Aug. 5: Telegraph

Jharkhand State Roads Project - Gobindpur – Jamtara – Dumka – Barhet – Sahebganj comprising of a total length of 310.7 kms, traversing through a total of six districts in the state

A. The Project


The Jharkhand (JH) State Highway Project entails the upgradation and improvement of the existing State roads of Jharkhand with ADB assistance under the ADB's Country Operations Business Plan (2007-2009). The project will rehabilitate the deteriorated and damaged state road corridors to provide reliable road transport services and hence reduce poverty in the long term. The Executing Agency (EA) for this project will be the Jharkhand State Road Construction Department (JHRCD) which is responsible for about 6800 kms roads consisting of NH's, SH's and District roads.


In accordance with ADB's procedure for Project lending, a project road has been selected in the state of JH for project preparation and processing. This subproject comprises of the upgradation of the State highway section of Gobindpur – Jamtara – Dumka – Barhet – Sahebganj comprising of a total length of 310.7 kms, traversing through a total of six districts in the state. This existing road will be converted into a 2 lane State Highway under the Project.


B. Project Benefits and Impacts


The Project will augment connectivity between the six districts (Dhanbad, Jamtara, Dumka, Deoghar, Pakur and Sahibganj) and will lead to the easy accessibility of the local people to essential socio-economic services such as health care, education, administrative services and trade centres enhancing the general quality of life. One of the key problems faced by the local people presently is the lack of means of transport, as very few public transport ply on these roads due to the poor road condition. The limited transport vehicles that do ply charge nearly double fare particularly making accessing socio-economic services difficult for the poor communities in the area. The Project, by improving road condition, is anticipated to improve access and transport options manifold thereby benefiting the locals particularly the poor. The Package IV from Barhet to Sahibganj is the shortest package of the total project corridor; whic takes off from Barhet, passes through Borio and reaches Sahibganj. The sub project corridor in this package passes through tribal village like Kadma, Sonajori etc, where availability of ROW is narrow.


As part of the Project, the existing road in Package IV would be improved and widened to standard two lane entailing a total widening of 30 meters. Taking into account the widening involved and despite the anticipated social economic benefits, the Project will necessitate land acquisition hence entailing involuntary resettlement. In order to assess the Project level resettlement impacts, a detailed census survey was undertaken package wise from January 2008 onwards.


During the survey, it is estimated that a total of 857 households will be affected in Package IV – Barhet-Sahibganj subproject. The impacts of the present project largely include loss of land (residential and commercial); structure (residential, commercial and government & institution owned) income and livelihood (owners, employees, squatters). A total of 55.57 acres of land and 1047 assets (comprising of agricultural plots, residential, commercial and residential cum commercial assets, trees etc) will be affected as a result of the subproject improvements. The data gathered from the census survey reveals that amongst the affected 857 households, the majority 41% will incur loss of agricultural land, followed by 38% households incurring loss of residential structures. In addition, 5% will incur impact on Commercial assets and 15% on residential cum commercial assets. Table A presents a summary profile of the affected project population in the subproject as a whole.


C. Measures to Minimize Impact


All necessary efforts have been made in order to minimize the subproject impacts and to reduce disruption of livelihood. In order to minimize impacts to the maximum possible extent, adequate provisions have been incorporated into the planning and design of the subproject to minimize or mitigate any unavoidable impacts. The key technical efforts undertaken to minimize impacts comprise of – provision for - a) Community bypasses in several village areas and built up areas and into a more rural setting, b) reduction of Alignment & following existing road alignment in critical areas, and c) adoption of toe wall approach in embankment construction.


D. Objective of the Resettlement Plan


The resettlement plan (RP) is guided by the National R&R Policy - 2007, JH R&R Norms – 2009, Bihar R&R Policy - 2007 and various state laws on land acquisition, and relevant ADB Policy on Involuntary Resettlement (1995) and Operations Manual F2 on Involuntary Resettlement (2006).


The primary objective of the RP is to identify impacts and to plan measures to mitigate various losses of the subproject. The RP is based on the general findings of the resettlement census survey, field visits, and meetings with various project-affected persons in the subproject area. The RP presents (i) type and extent of loss of assets, including land and structures; (ii) principles and legal framework applicable for mitigation of losses; (iii) entitlement matrix, based on the inventory of loss and (iii) budget, institutional framework for the implementation of the plan, including monitoring and evaluation.


E. Stakeholder Participation and Disclosure of RP


Local level stakeholders were consulted in the subproject area while conducting initial social and poverty assessment. Similarly, due consideration was also given for Stakeholder consultations and community participation at different levels during RP preparation. A summary of this Resettlement Plan (RP) will be translated into Hindi and Santhali and will be made available to the affected people by the Executing Agency (EA) for review and comments on the policy and mitigation measures by means of subproject-level Disclosure workshops prior to loan negotiation. Copies of summary RP will also be made available at the local level public offices such as revenue offices and gram panchayat to stakeholders for local inputs prior to award of civil work contract. The proceedings of the disclosure workshop and the feedback received will be sent to ADB for review. The summary of the final RP will also be disclosed on the ADB Website.


F. Implementation Arrangements & Grievance Redressal


Executing Agency (EA) of the State Road Project in Jharkhand is the Road Construction Department (RCD) of the State government and will be responsible for overall strategic guidance, technical supervision, execution of the project, and ensuring compliance with the loan covenants. Project Implementation Cell under Road Construction Department will be established in Ranchi. This PIC will be headed by a full-time Director (ADB Project) reporting to the Secretary – RCD.


PIC would also ensure monitoring any changes to the subproject design. In case of change in subproject design thereby entailing change in resettlement impacts, a re-evaluation and updation of the RP will be undertaken. The updated RP will be disclosed to the APs, endorsed by the EA and will be submitted to ADB for approval prior to award of civil works contracts for the subproject. The updated RP, not just the summary will be disclosed to the APs as well as uploaded on the ADB website after ADB review and approval. PIC would also ensure that resettlement budgets are delivered on time for RP implementation. A field based District level Implementation Cell, headed by an Executive Engineer and assisted by a dedicated R&R Officer (RO) to implement the RP, will be responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the RP. This DIC will be assisted by local NGOs.


In order to resolve and address the grievances of the communities and people affected, a Grievance Redressal Cell would be established at the District Implementation Cell level. This Cell will comprise of the Executive Engineer, local NGO representative, community leaders (non- political), representatives of affected persons including women and vulnerable groups. To facilitate inter-departmental coordination as well as ensure speedy resolution of issues and grievances of the communities, a District level task force chaired by District Collector and comprising of District Land Acquisition Officer (DLAO), District Forest Officer (DFO), Executive Engineer and Additional District Magistrate and Relief Officer has been constituted at the each district level.


All compensation and other assistances1 will be paid to all APs prior to commencement of civil works. A detailed implementation schedule for the various activities is provided in Figure 7.2 in the main text.


G. Budget


The total estimated cost for resettlement operation and management for the Project is Rs. 85,215,411 (USD 2,028,938).


H. Training, Monitoring & Evaluation


An orientation and training in resettlement management will be provided under the Project by the ADB Consultant on NGO Engagement to the NGOs focusing on issues concerning - (i) principles and procedures of land acquisition; (ii) the policies and principles agreed under the ADB loan; (iii) public consultation and participation; (iv) entitlements and compensation disbursement mechanisms; (v) Grievance redressal and (vi) monitoring of resettlement operation.


The RP will have both internal and external monitoring. Internal Monitoring will be a regular activity for the PIC, which will oversee the timely implementation of R&R activities. Internal Monitoring will be carried out by the PIC and its agents, such as NGOs and will prepare monthly reports on the progress of RP Implementation.


External (or independent) monitoring will be hired by ADB to provide an independent periodic assessment of resettlement implementation and impacts to verify internal monitoring, and to suggest adjustment of delivery mechanisms and procedures as required.


Download the entire report here (.pdf).


Over 12,000 trees would be uprooted from the districts of Dumka, Sahebganj, Jamtara and Pakur to facilitate the construction of the highway that is being sponsored by Asian Development Bank.

Four districts have to pay a heavy green price for the proposed Govindpur-Sahebganj two-lane express highway.


At Sahebganj district, 2.21 hectares of uncovered forestland and 0.8627 hectares of covered forestlands will be acquired. Over 2,597 trees at four Mouzas (revenue villages) — Khairasol, Paharpur, Bara Chandvasi and Burudehi — spreading across 2.991 hectares would be cut down for the construction of the highway. At Pakur, around 1,200 trees would be under the axe while the loss of trees in Dumka will be about 4,500.


Regional chief conservator of forest (Dumka) Manraj has send the initial proposal of uprooting trees to the state headquarters after receiving a proposal from the forest department of respective districts in Santhal Pargana.


In the first phase, executive engineers of road divisions would send the proposal to the concerned district forest officials (DFOs) for acquiring the forestland for the highway, Manraj said. The DFO would then conduct survey of lands and send the final report to the state.


According to DFO of Sahebganj J.P.N. Sinha, the road division or the concerned authorities will only get the no-objection certificate only after compensating for cutting the trees as per the norms of the ministry of forest and environment.


The 330km-stretch highway would cost approximately Rs 800 crore, sources said. The road will begin from Govindpur (Dhanbad) and pass through Sahebganj via Jamtara, Dumka, Pakur. The road would also cover some parts of Palazori, in between Jamtara and Dumka, at Deoghar.


© The Telegraph / July 8, 2009


Merry-go-round (MGR) railway lines for Jharkhand mines in Godda and Shaibganj

It will be quite some time before the proposed Hurashi and Chupervita open cast mine projects, an extension of the Rajmahal Coalfield Project, finally see the light of the day as the administration has not been able to acquire land for railway lines.


According to sources in Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) that has undertaken the Rajmahal Coalfield Project, the state had completed survey work of the merry-go-round (MGR) railway lines, required to ferry coal, at Hurashi in 2005. The line will connect Hurashi with Debri cabin of Lalmatiya-Farakka MGR line. A no-objection certificate was also obtained from the forest department as a portion of the land lies in the forest and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Farakka, was assigned the task to construct the 10km stretch.


"We have already deposited an amount with the land acquisition department, Godda, for giving compensations to the displaced. But the officials concerned have not taken any efforts to complete the process of acquiring land," an officials at the NTPC, Farakka, said. "In the first phase, 263 jobs have been approved for the displaced," he added.


Similar initiatives had been taken by the NTPC for laying MGR line at Chupervita open cast project on the border of Godda-Pakur, located 75km from the Rajmahal project.


The 26km MGR line will be connected to Lalmatiya-Farakka MGR line at Barhet level crossing (Sahebganj). It will pass via Sonazori, Harodehi, Gopaldehi, Tiotola, Jhabri, Karantola, Gilha, Chucchi, Kusma, Metor, Mukki, Rajapani, Barapuro (Godda), Jabardaha, Baradham, Chotapuro, Mekomudhubi, Garidehi, Piparjoria, Pokharia and Karasol's loading point.


Sources said all necessary documents for land acquisition had been handed over to Godda and Sahebganj district administrations. "Due to some technical problems, the administrations are yet to complete the formalities. As a result, the project has been delayed," a source said.


Director of Coal India P.K. Banerjee, who visited the project sites on June 9, said he had received complaints from NTPC officials about the laggard pace of work. "Coal India is trying its best to get the two important projects started at the earliest. The ECL has already prepared the blueprints of rehabilitation packages that will usher in development in the area. I will take up the matter with the higher state officials to expedite work on the MGR lines," he said.


Telegraph / June 19, 2009

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has failed to take off successfully in Dumka, Godda, Sahebganj, Deoghar and Pakur

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the Centre's ambitious project to connect the rural interiors with the state's roads, has failed to take off successfully in the Santhal Pargana districts — evident from an analysis of the past two years.


In the 2007-08 fiscal, the rural works department, the nodal agency assigned for the project, managed to complete only seven out of the 87 sanctioned roads, for which Rs 100 crore had been approved.


The state had approved Rs 100.45 core for the construction of 343.44-km of roads in Santhal Pargana. Of that, only Rs 29.28 crore was spent during 2007-08. Result: Eighty incomplete roads.


The situation was similar in the next financial year, 2008-09. Under PMGSY, 111 new projects were sanctioned and Rs 84.09 crore released. However, only five new roads were completed at a cost of Rs 12.25 crore.


During 2007-08, the construction of new roads was also not completed in Dumka, Sahebganj and Pakur districts. In Dumka, 12 new roads, stretching over 65.36-km, were scheduled to be completed. Out of the sanctioned Rs 21.18 crore, the rural works department spent only 5.85 crore.


In Deoghar, during 2007-08, only four the 39 sanctioned road projects were completed. Out of the sanctioned Rs 30.67 crore, the district managed to spend Rs 4.23 crore. In 2008-09, out of 35 sanctioned roads, only two were completed at Deoghar.


Similarly during 2007-08, only one road under this project was completed at Jamtara and two were completed in Godda. During 2008-09, Rs 10 crore was sanctioned for Godda. In 2007-08, out of a sanctioned Rs 27.06 core, Godda managed to spend only Rs 2.14 crore for completing two roads under the PMGSY.


The 2008-09 fiscal witnessed no improvement. As the officials concerned remained busy in publishing tenders and completing the formalities related to the tender process.


Not a single officer in the rural works department was available for comment on the cause of such delay or non-execution of the works for the roads under PMGSY.


Divisional commissioner of Santhal Pargana Sahazanand Sharma was also not available for his comment but sources from his office said that he recently expressed his deep concern over the delay of construction of the roads under the project.


Telegraph / June 9, 2009

Multi-billion project to revive Mughal monuments in Sahibganj District

A dilapidated building in Rajmahal that housed the zonal railway headquarters during British rule 


Historical monuments languishing in neglect for the past six decades in Rajmahal, Sahebganj, will soon get a facelift. The state has drawn up a Rs 3-crore renovation and beautification plan to turn the erstwhile capital of united Bengal into a tourist destination.


State tourism secretary Arun Kumar Singh, who recently visited Sahebganj, said the immense tourism potential of the town had prompted the drive. He said the renovation plan would cover the Singhi Dalan, Baradwari, Maina Biwi tank, tanksal (treasury) and Kanhaiyasthan — all dating back to the Mughal period.


On May 13, a team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), accompanied by state tourism department co-ordinator Sridev Singh toured Rajmahal. Singh told The Telegraph Rs 3 crore would be spent to repair the tottering edifices.


Though the project includes all the above mentioned monuments, two most prominent Mughal creations — the tomb of Miran and Udhwa Nala — find no mention.


According to professor Yogendra Prasad Roy, the head of history department at Sahebganj College, Miran was the son of Mir Zafar, who engineered Sirajudullah's defeat and Bengal's takeover by the British after the battle in Plassey in 1757.


Miran's tomb at Mahajantoli is on the verge of extinction with encroachment being a major problem. The Udhwa Nala, where Siraj was caught while trying to flee, too needs attention. Roy said it was unfortunate that the tourism department had overlooked the two very important witnesses of history.


When asked why the tomb and the nala were missing from the renovation list, the tourism secretary said they "will most certainly be included" as will the building that currently houses the Rajmahal police station, but was the zonal railway headquarters during the Raj rule. The police station will be shifted to a new building at Naya Bazar.


Archaeological Survey of India has already started renovation work at Baradwari and also at Jama Masjid, which was built by Maan Singh, the then governor of emperor Akbar.


May 23, 2009 / Telegraph



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