Arvind Singh Bisht, TNN 30 August 2009, 04:55am IST
LUCKNOW: It is a catch-22 situation in UP. While there is no reprieve from the severe drought in 58 of the total 70 districts in the state,
floods have now become the bane of over one dozen districts. Incidentally, these flood-affected districts are also included in the list of drought-affected districts.
Uniquely, it is East UP which is under floods, while Western UP reeling under severe droughts, has been spared so far from this. Surprisingly, these floods are not due to excessive rain, but are caused due to excessive flow of water from Nepal into the rivers like Ghagra, Rapti, Gandak and Saryu and Narayani. All these rivers are either flowing above the danger mark or just touching this point.
The threat still looms large, as monsoon is not yet over. If the past experience is any cue, then floods have been most common in UP in the month of September. The government by its own admission puts the estimated flood-affected population at present at over 12 lakh in as many as 38 tehsils of 12 districts of Behraich, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Siddarth Nagar, Deoria, Shravasti, Sitapur, Faizabad, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Bahraich, Gonda and Balrampur.
The number might swell, if there is more rain in the catchment areas, particularly in Nepal, which is like a scourge for the state in term of floods.
The worst hit are the farmers, who get peanuts in spite of the political blame game going on between the Mayawati government and the Congress-led government at the Centre over the issue of relief package. The state has demanded a hefty sum of around Rs 8,000 cr for drought relief. The package for the flood relief will be in addition to this.
But for the farmers, getting this relief is far more difficult than to face the ordeal of nature’s vagaries. The norms for the relief are as: Rs 1 lakh in case of a death. For rehabilitation, Rs 20 per day each are given to every adult and Rs 15 per day to minor. For the loss of crop, a compensation of Rs 2,000 per hectare is admissible. Likewise, Rs 25,000 relief is given on the destruction of a `pucca house’ and Rs 2,000 on a `kuchha house.’
However, getting this relief is not possible without running from pillar to post. Most of the time it’s very purpose gets defeated due to inordinate delay in its disbursement. The most defective is the compensation norm set for the loss of crop. This is fixed Rs 2,000 per hectare. But the fact remains that most of the land-holdings in UP are less than one hectare. So, the majority of farmers, who are at the rock-bottom of the society virtually get nothing out of the government’s relief. In fact, this comes as a jackpot for the revenue officials and other concerned, who stand to gain most by this.
Already, the situation has taken a turn for the worst in the state. The adversity of nature has put the farmers, particularly marginal and small farmers in abject poverty. The result is that of suicides by farmers in the state. In one such case reported from Lakhimpur-Kheri only last week, a farmer couple– Dharmpal (35) and his wife Dharma Devi committed suicide due to indebtedness.
Incidentally, UP has the dubious distinction of highest number of indebted farmers — much more than Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh where maximum number of farmers’ suicide take place — and the above incident comes as a wake up call.