Plight of Palamu

Palamu map, Picture credit NIC
Palamu, Pic credit NIC
NK SINGH

Palamu In Bihar (now in Jharkhand) became known widely during the famine of 1966-67.

Of the district’s 4,921 sq mile areas, about 2,146 sq miles is covered by forests. The total cultivable land is 13,15,751 acres. Average rainfall is 52.55 inches a year.

According to the 1961 census, the total population of the district is about 14 lakh. It is the smallest, poorest and most backward district in Bihar.

But it is also the riches district due to its mineral wealth. However, all the minerals are underground and people remain unemployed, poor and hungry.

The average per capita income in all districts is the lowest among all districts in India. Except Japla cement factory, there is not a single big industry. Large number of people migrate in search of jobs.

Agriculture depends upon the vagaries of weather. Once every few years, Palamu is in the grip of drought and farmers are unable to grow even a single crop.

Shadow of famine

Famine is once again casting its shadow over the district, whose main occupation is agriculture. This year all the crops were damaged because of drought. Even Mahua flower, used as a substitute food by the poor, is not available now.

In some villages there is not a single water source. People have to trek two miles for water.

According to a statement by three MLAs of Palamu, 13 persons have died of hunger, including children and women.

The bureaucrats in Patna, Ranchi and Daltonganj pay no attention to this situation.

The Governor has asked that collection of loans not exceeding ₹500 be stopped. While the officers have stopped loan repayment, they are collecting land revenue from the poor and starving people.

Excerpts from Patriot, 31 August 1969

Plight of Palamu, by NK Singh, Patriot, 31 August 1969
Patriot 31 August 1969

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