Madhya Pradesh: Riddled by issues, but CM says it’s no more ‘bimaru’ state

Comfortably oblivious to the acute problems the state is facing, #MadhyaPradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan brags about the state no more being a ‘bimaru’ one

Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

LS Herdenia

Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan often claims that Madhya Pradesh has ceased to be a “Bimaru” state. Although Niti Ayog Vice Chief some days back blamed Madhya Pradesh, UP and Bihar for the slow progress of the country. If Madhya Pradesh has ceased to be a “Bimaru” state, why do the inmates of a girls hostel of Damoh have to walk more than two kilometers to relieve themselves. They form a group to reach an isolated area to relieve themselves. They are accompanied by the Warden of the hostel. It is a coincidence that state finance minister Jayant Mallaya hails from Damoh district.

Chief Minister also claims that medicines are available in ample quantity for the treatment of poor people including tribals. But, here is a report from Shivpuri district where large number of Saharia tribals died because of the lack of proper treatment. National Human Rights Commission took cognisance of this tragedy after a complaint was filed by a law student Abhaya Jain and served a notice on the state’s Chief Secretary to apprise the commission with facts. The rights panel has asked the officers to file a response within four weeks.

Due to the frequent deaths, Majher, located about 15 kilometers from the district headquarters, has earned the dubious tag of ‘village of widows’. It is believed that men who work in illegal sand mines – their sole livelihood – do not survive after 40 years.

The issue had been brought to the knowledge of the state government in the last two decades, but in vain.

On September 15, 2005, Mihir Shah, the then advisor to the commissioner Supreme Court of India had written a letter to the then collector M Geeta for immediate attention on the matter.

Shah had cited a report sent to him by Uma Chaturvedi, a fellow with the Right to Food Campaign Support Group, Madhya Pradesh, which highlighted the precarious living conditions of the Saharaia families. In the absence of proper employment opportunities, men from the Saharia community were forced to work in extremely hazardous conditions in the state quarries. They contracted TB and many died. Health facilities remained completely inaccessible and virtually non-existent in these neglected adivasi pockets(even though the government has a special programme for the free treatment of TB patients). After the hazardous and ecologically harmful quarries were shut, Saharia families are on the brink of starvation as no alternative employment has been provided”, wrote Shah.

Reports of terrible scarcity of drinking water are reaching Bhopal. Scarcity is much more serious in Bundelkhand area of the state. According to Rajendra Singh known as waterman of India, when Bundelkhand is reeling under drought chief minister’s announcement earlier this year regarding conservation of water bodies was not implemented.

“Left without any choice, these Saharias have to turn towards the forests from where they gather various herbs and leaves for their survival. Not all of them are safe for consumption,” added Shah.

Almost 13 years after Shah’s letter, a National Law University student from Odisha, Abhay Jain, raised the issue and claimed that nothing has changed till date.

“Water is contaminated, there is no access to healthcare facilities, the mining is unregulated and safety measures are given a go-by” Jain said in his complaint to the NHRC.

Reports of terrible scarcity of drinking water are reaching Bhopal. Scarcity is much more serious in Bundelkhand area of the state. According to Rajendra Singh known as waterman of India, when Bundelkhand is reeling under drought chief minister’s announcement earlier this year regarding conservation of water bodies was not implemented. Addressing a press conference Singh said he wrote three letters to the CM and talked to one of his principal secretaries two days back, but there was no response.

“We had warned the CM beforehand, but the government did not act.” He said at the press conference while releasing a report on drought in the region.

He said that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced identification and demarcation of all water bodies of Bundelkhand, especially lakes constructed during Chandela era for conservation and repair work.

This work should have started before onset of monsoon, but the government seems to have forgotten its promises he rued.

A report compiled by Singh after a survey carried out in six districts of Bundelkhand- Sagar, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Panna, Damoh and Datia showed there was 73% to 82% crop loss in kharif season. “Consequently almost 40% population in these districts is facing food crisis” he said. Singh said that a large number of people have migrated from Bundelkhand. Only elderly persons and cattle were left behind. Most importantly, he said they are reluctant to return after successive droughts and joblessness.

Both Prime Minister and Chief Minister assert that almost all the villages have electricity connection. But here is a report from village Gulab Ganj of Vidisha district, which does not have electricity and as a result, people use kerosene lamps.

In a hut of this village, a kerosene lamp was being used. Accidentally, it fell on the floor causing a fire in the hut. A child, who was sleeping in the hut was trapped and died. Reports of such tragic incidents are often heard from several villages which are yet to have electricity supply.

Such incidents are mostly caused due to failure of the people manning the administration asserted Union Minister Uma Bharti. This comment of Uma Bharti shocked every rational person.

Uma Bharti also courted a controversy by taking a dig at non-performing bureaucrats during her address at Swachchta Abhiyan programme. She said that ‘honest officers’ are of no use and ‘dishonest officers’ are better than honest ones as they at least perform and have guts to take up the challenge given to them. “What is the use of honesty when nothing comes out of it? Such honesty should be buried in hell” she said.

She said, “Kai IAS-IPS ye kah dete hain ki main to imandar hoon main ye nahin karunga, vo nahin karunga…aise main to main ye kai baar kehti hun ki tumse to baimaan achche hain jo kam se kam kaam karke to dikhate hain…Tumahari imandari ka karenge kya?” Ye to patall main dafan ke layak hai…iska kya karenge” (Some IAS-IPS make excuse for not performing. They say they are honest and cannot do this or that thing. But, I sometimes say that dishonest officers are better who can at least show their performance. What your honesty is meant for? This is to be buried in the hell, what could be done).

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