Bewakuf Hotel & Burning issues in Giridih, Jharkhand
Giridih is a small town bustling with people who love to eat in a chain of food joints called Bewakuf, Bewakuf No. One, Shri Bewakuf and Maha Bewakuf. People who loved and watched the 'family' film Vivah so much that it had a super hit run of 6 months and where 'mineral' water brands like Baba Jal, Kempti, Vailleys give a run for money to Bisleri.
Giridih is also split into CCL (the govt. owned Central Coalfield Ltd.) and non CCL areas. The CCL areas are rich for its natural resources of coal deposits under the ground and the non CCL areas are rich for its natural resources of forest, timber like sal, bamboo, khair over the ground. But… the people who live here are far from being rich. So close to these rich resources and yet so far removed from the benefits of this proximity and so utterly poor.
The reasons for this are several, In the CCL areas the reasons are:
This town is supposed to be administered (provide civic, health, education services to the inhabitants) by the govt. owned Central Coalfield Ltd. (CCL). But, CCL does this in areas where its employees are concentrated and the rest of the people 'do not exist' for CCL.
1.These people 'do not exist' because as required by the govt. they don't have the 'patta', a long, scroll-like, official paper that proves ownership of the land.
2.Non-existent people don't get their rights – to a home, health, education and thus a livelihood.
3.The govt. schemes like employment guarantee schemes, income generation schemes, mooted to help all people below poverty line are so mired in corruption that they fail to benefit the very people. The schemes either just stay on paper. Or get implemented by the contractors for the contractors i.e. they pay the local people less or get people from outside, pay them less and pocket the rest.
4.The govt. owned CCL now does a lot of open mining (dig and scoop out pits the size of a sports stadium) to reach the coal below. They are supposed to cover it and return it to the original state. But they just leave it open. Result – these open, deep pits over time collect water that gets used by the local people leading to diseases. There is less and less of flat land left for even basic vegetation.
5.The officially closed mines still continue to be mined illegally. Out of desperation the local people including children go in and then travel long distances to sell the coal. In case of accidents or death inside the mines due to the pillar or roof collapsing etc., it goes unrecorded and uncompensated.
The reasons of deprivation, unique to the non-CCL areas are:
1.The rampant illegal deforestation happening with the complete sanction of the forest dept. officials. Leading to a fast depleting forest cover, soil erosion, change in crop patterns.
2.The prevalence of age-old and deep rooted social sanctions primarily in the area of caste and gender discrimination. The lower caste is unable to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty, debt, bonded labour, generation after generation.
The rest of the reasons remain the same 2, 3 and 4 as in the CCL areas mentioned above.
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