From the Red Fort, PM mentions flora and fauna of UP and Bihar, ignores Jharkhand
People of the state were irked by the fact though Modi glorified states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in his 86 minute address to the nation from the Red Fort, he overlooked the treasures of Jharkhand
A feeling of dejection and dismay was writ large on the faces of policy makers and politically-conscious public in Jharkhand when they found the Prime Minister Narendra Modi willfully ignoring Jharkhand while delivering his Independence Day speech from the rampart of the Red Fort on Saturday.
What irked the people of the state was that though Modi preferred to glorify states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he overlooked the treasures of Jharkhand.
Gleefully recounting his achievements, the Prime Minister in his 86 minute speech, referred mistakenly to the vast treasures and fortunes of natural resources possessed by UP and Bihar, particularly in respect of flora, fauna and mineral resources, but he feigned ignorance of rich heritage and resources in these fields found in Jharkhand.
Reacting to Modi’s apathy, former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay said that Modi was one among those Prime Ministers the country ever had who was hardly aware of the history and geography of the nation. “India never had a head of the government who cared only for his own party ideology and the states run by the saffron brigade,” Sahay said, adding, “what was most preposterous was that he had always been trying to make willful attempts to discard the glories of others”.
Sahay’s contention was quite evident in Modi’s Red Fort speech on Saturday when the latter reverentially referred to UP and Bihar in respect of the vast forest and mineral resources of these two states and avoided naming Jharkhand, home to Saranda, Asia’s largest Sal forest, which in the local Ho language means ‘the Land of Seven Hundred hills’. It is located in West Singhbhum district, some 60 kms from Tatanagar. Right from mammals to birds and reptiles, Saranda is a golden treasure of wild life.
Sahay said when it came to seeking financial help and investment in other parts of the country, Modi would reverently remember Tata House but when it came to lauding Jharkhand which gave shelter to the founder of Tata House, Jamshedji Tata, he forgot about Tatanagar and its periphery.
Perhaps Modi forgot that Jharkhand rans 10th among areas under forest cover. Its 2,588 km sq is under very dense forest, 9,663 km sq under moderately dense forest and 11,227 km sq under open forest. As such, forest and tree cover constitute 32.48% of the geographical area of the state against the national average of 23.82 %.
It was also unbelievable to hear the Prime Minister not acknowledging the vast mineral resources that Jharkhand possesses, acquiring the epithet of being one of the richest mineral zones in the world which could boast of 40 per cent and 29 per cent of India’s mineral and coal reserves respectively. As per government estimates, the value of mineral production (excluding fuel minerals) during 2018-19 stood at Rs 2,510.99 crores, equivalent to US$ 356.22 million.
While he referred to large scale investment and FDI, he presumably forgot that total FDI for Jharkhand between April 2019 and 2020 stood at US $ 119 million. Further, total exports from the state stood at US $1,640.33 million during 2018-19.
Why was he glorifying his flagship Atmanirbhar Bharat programme without naming Jharkhand in his speech from the Red Fort’s ramparts , is a question the state’s people would like to ask Modi.
Incidentally, Modi government’s promise to provide jobs to rural folk proved hollow in face of the fact that while his government has done little to offer relief to rural people, about 80 percent of whom depend on agriculture, his government has snatched jobs from the second largest job provider, the handloom sector, after the Union Ministry of Textiles disbanded All India Handloom Board on July 27. Weavers in the state are now in dire straits as they have lost their livelihood which they used to get with the existence of the All India Handloom Board.
On the political front too, the Modi government never hesitates to humiliate Jharkhand government. As against the dues of Rs 8000 crores by way of coal royalty, it recently paid only Rs 250 crores, a cheque for which Union Minister for Coal, Prahalad Joshi, himself came to Ranchi to personally hand over.
Such humiliation apart, the Prime Minister has been ignoring the Chief Minister of the state, Hemant Soren, while having interactions with CMs of the country through video conferencing. Out of nearly half a dozen such exercises by the Prime Minister, he could give time to the Jharkhand CM only once, and that too for a very short spell.
Such was not the case before November 2019, when BJP was in power in the state and its Chief Minister, Raghubar Das, used to be the PM’s blue eyed boy.