Musing About Jharkhand, While Holidaying In Netarhat

It’s commonly held belief that travelling is a great teacher, one need to travel with open mind to discover the hidden facets of life, to absorb and to learn all the available lessons humbly. So, I decided to end the bygone year 2013 and begin the New Year 2014 by driving down to, Netarhat and spending time away from the usual hullabaloo, with my family.

Far-far away from the maddening crowd, Netarhat is perfect place to enjoy the elusive peace and calmness. The Queen of Chotanagpur is located at the height of about 3800 feet above the sea-level, perched atop the plateau of about 4 miles and it has only sprinkling of people. Once upon a time, it was one of the most popular hill stations of the state; but at present, this hill station seems to have fallen off the tourist map. It’s in sorry state, despite the fact that Netarhat is home to bountiful unexplored natural beauty, boast of its salubrious climate, etc.

Why did this happen?

Well, the answer is not really difficult and the most of the Jharkhandi people of aware of the following reasons behind its sorry state.

# Firm grip of left-extremists / Maoists   

We had barely stepped out of Ranchi, when an uncle (Bade Mamaji) called me on cell-phone. He sounded anxious and concerned. He said,” Sameer….my staff has informed me about the on-going gun-battle between the two warring groups of Maoists at Netarhat’s bauxite mining area…..” We had already left Ranchi for Netarhat and it was difficult to turn back. Besides, we along with other Jharkhandi people have become used to living and surviving with Maoists in the so-called red-corridor.

Anyway, I thanked my uncle and continued with our journey. I am certain that in a similar situation; good number of people would have turned back and returned to safety of their homes. However, we, Jharkhandi have no options, where can we be scared and run away? 

The Maoists have vice-like grip in the rural and semi-urban areas of Jharkhand, and it’s a harsh reality. No doubt, the presence of Maoists scares off the tourists besides it puts huge burden on state’s exchequers that could have been utilized in other productive ways. Nonetheless, I do not see any serious attempt to resolve this knotty issue of Maoism by the people who rule us.  

# Non-development of Basic Infrastructure like Roads

Despite the threats we decided to continue with our road journey, as if such gun-battles are routine affairs.

We drove on Ranchi-Nagari-Bero-Bhandra-Lohardaga route and this stretch of road was fine up to Lohardaga. Although this highway needs to be broadened plus a road-divider is must. As we know that it’s a National Highway that goes up to Mumbai.

After we passed Lohardaga, the condition of road worsened dramatically. The road on Lohardaga-Ghaghra-Bishunpur-Netrahat stretch is pathetic; it’s full of pot-holes and absence of metallic tar cover. The driving was real-test of the driver’s patience and off-course the durability and the sturdiness of the vehicles.  

Poor roads in Netarhat Valley (FOCUS magazine)
Poor roads in Netarhat Valley

Netarhat is about 156 km away from Ranchi and the drive should have taken less than 3 hours, but it did not.

The tale of poor quality of roads in Jharkhand is not limited only to this stretch of Ranchi-Netarhat. This story gets repeated everywhere.

Indicators

Jharkhand

National

1 Road length per one lakh population

58

277

2 Road length per 1000 sq. km.

219.9

965.7

3 SH & MDR (i.e., road length excluding NH & Rural Road)

88.44

182.4

4 Rural roads & other roads (km. per 1000 sq. Km.)

304.86

806.06

 

The tar-metallic roads are non-existent in rural areas; the kuccha-sadak (mud-roads) is more commonplace.

# Neglect of the Agriculture & the Other Economic Sectors

While driving down, from Ranchi to Netarhat, one can see vast stretches of agriculture land, on both sides of the roads; the acres and acres of agriculture fields are lying barren and curiously enough they are devoid of any crops.

One might wonder why?

According to the state government’s statistics, Jharkhand has about 69 lakh households and out of these 35 lakh families are Below Poverty line (BPL). The saddest part is that Jharkhand falls short in almost all the development indicators, including the neglected Agriculture sector.

Indicators

Jharkhand

National

1 Agriculture Sector Growth Rate

7.8%

2 Irrigation Coverage

31.98%

67%

3 Cultivable Area to Total Area

47.67%

47.47%

4 Net Sown area Total Area

29.63%

46%

5 Annual Rainfall is above 1300 mm, and it’s a major strength.
6 Total net sown area is only 28% of total geographical area, it’s bad.
7 Total irrigated area is only 12.77% of net sown area, again it’s bad.

 

Well, the complete absence of irrigation facilities has ruined the lives of local farmers.  No doubt, Jharkhand is considered a hub for human-trafficking and mass-migration of people from rural areas.  

Jharkhand cannot afford to be one-legged race-horse, viz. Mining based industrialization; it needs all round development of all its economic sectors to pull its poor people away from the poverty, to attain higher economic growth and perhaps to attain greater prosperity. 

# Lack of Vision, Planning & Honest Implementation

Jharkhand is home of several minerals, in addition it has high level of deposits of coal and iron ore. Several big companies like Coal India Limited, SAIL, Tata Steel, Tata Motors, etc. have their industrial plants in the state. Yet, the state remains an economically backward state.

According to the experts, the soil of Jharkhand is conducive for the horticulture and floriculture; in addition, there is huge scope for food-processing industry in the state. Yet, we have not witnessed any serious developments in these sectors, barring off-course the few initiatives undertaken by private individuals and couple of NGOs.

This year, I have decided to write on Jharkhand and there are many more issues to be written about, but I shall take them up at an appropriate time. But the thing that really bothers me is that these issues do not really get resolved in the state. If one happens to read my older articles and the subjects discussed therein, then they would realize that those concerns are still relevant today, as they remain unresolved.

2014 year is an election year and it’s time for Jharkhand and Jharkhandi people to break this cycle of poverty, deprivation and under-development.

It’s time to act, act decisively.

Sameer Bhagat
Join me

Sameer Bhagat

Author, Salvaging Adidweep.
Sameer Bhagat
Join me
Sameer Bhagat

Written by

Author, Salvaging Adidweep.

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