Environment

Jharkhand farmers being exploited by greedy officials

Devsagar Singh

Ranchi (Jharkhand), Nov 24: People in Jharkhand remain a neglected lot despite a government of their own. The tribal-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) government under Chief Minister Hemant Soren is insensitive to the difficulties faced by the people. Land records are incomplete forcing people to bribe officials at the block level to get their genuine work done. Despite claims of digitization of land records, thousands allege their names do not find mention in government records. As a result, they are unable to pay land rent online. At the same time, there is no provision to pay in cash. The Government is losing revenue, but who cares.

         People allege local officials seek bribe to register their names along with land records online. They seek illegal gratification even to make minor  corrections in their names, it is further alleged. A poor farmer of Karra Block in Khunti district, requesting anonymity, said he has been entreating the official in charge to register his name along with his land records online for the past two years. But his work is not done because he is unable to pay bribe. According to the farmer, there is a long chain of officials upto the district level who are hands in glove to fleece the innocent in this game. It is known to the Chief Minister as  well, but he refuses to act for inexplicable reasons, people say. It is corrupt officials, indeed, who seem to be running the Government in this tribal dominated state.

             Ironically, it is Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s octogenarian father Sibu Soren, now a member of parliament, who played key role in getting separate Jharkhand state out of Bihar in the name of  doing justice to poor tribals and other local residents. The younger Soren has now taken over command of the JMM  whose contribution was immense in the creation of a separate Jharkhand state in 2000.  He, however, dismally lacked the  aura  and the ideals  his father commanded as leader of the JMM he created  more than half a century ago.

           No wonder, the Modi charisma worked in the 2014 assembly elections with the BJP trouncing the JMM in Jharkhand. The JMM , however, regained power in the 2019 elections along with ally Congress. The BJP’s defeat was largely attributed to its CM Raghubar Das’ overzealous  land policy.  The party’s showing in Lok Sabha elections the same year proved it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be popular in the state.

            If people’s problems remain ignored by the incumbent government, it is anybody’s guess who could gain power in the next election. Land is an extremely touchy issue with farmers in Jharkhand, just as in any other state. Majority of them are living on the margins. It is the Government’s  subsidized ration supply which keeps them afloat. Their exploitation by greedy officials is criminal, to say the least. It is no less criminal on the part of political authorities to close their eyes to the problems of the people. It is in its own interest for the JMM-Congress government to take care of the people and solve their problems without delay.

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