Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Engrossed in contriving methods to help POSCO and similar other mine mongers, Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has thrown Orissa to such a ruin that in the eyes of the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) four of its districts – Kandhamal, Malkangiri, Gajpati and Rayagada – have been thrown into the ‘geography of hunger’ even as three of them, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Rayagada as well as the district of Nabarangpur are found ‘extremely insecure’ in the matter of food.
When serving the non-Oriya capitalists has remained the priority agenda of the CM Orissa has become a symbol of economic ruin.
More than 15 million people in rural Orissa live below the official poverty line, which constitute 47 per cent of the State’s rural population, says the report prepared by the Institute of Human Development on behalf of the WFP termed Food Security Atlas of Rural Orissa. No other State of India is so wretched.
Noting that the people in Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Malkangir have the lowest access to food, the survey exposes that more than five million persons in these districts suffer from calorie undernourishment whereas protein consumption in the State is as low as 48 gm a day per person.
When parents are so pathetically undernourished its impact is bound to play havoc with the children. And it is happening. Before reaching the age of five 90 out of every 1000 children are dieing due to slow starvation in the State.
The report shows, the districts of Kandhamal, Gajapati, Rayagada and Malkangiri have under-five-mortality higher than 160 per 1000 births with more than half of their children being underweight. Similarly, 46 per cent of children under three in the State are underweight, 40 per cent are stunted when 20 per cent children are wasted.
Had health care network of the state not been subjected to subterfuge and corrupt practices by the State administration itself, chances were that the children below five would have a little more hope of excepting death in more numbers. But Navin has been giving an administration that swindles the funds obtained as loans from the World Health Organization and no prompt action is taken against the swindlers when the scams are exposed through audits and intelligence.
Such a Government has given birth to an environment where Less than half of the population has access to primary health facilities. The survey says that the situation is still worse in most of the northern districts and in the southern districts of Rayagada, Malakangiri, Kandhamal and Gajapati where less than 20 per cent of inhabitants have access to primary health cares.
One-third of Orissa’s rural households do not have access to safe drinking water as a result of which water borne diseases such as Cholera and diarrhea are rampant in these areas.
The well known reality is that lakhs of working people from different parts of Orissa are being forced to leave their soil in search of avenues to earn their food and end up as bonded labors out side Orissa. The WPF report has now confirmed the cause. The rate of wages for rural causal labor is very low in the State, it has said indicating that it is further lower in the northern districts, where the rate is often less than Rs.30 a day, which is less than half of the national minimum wages. The Minimum Wages Act is applicable to Orissa; but Navin’s Government never enforces it. The Labor department, which is the administrative department, is most inadequately manned and habitually lethargic. It never serves the workers in right earnest.
Where has Navin landed Orissa!