Development of Koraput, Bolangir, Kalahandi districts in Orissa
The Southern and Western districts of Orissa are regarded as the most backward region by the planning commission and re-designated some of these districts as KBK (Koraput, Bolangir, Kalahandi). During 1992-93, the three larger districts were re-organized into eight districts: Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawrangpur, Rayagada, Bolangir, Sonepur, Kalahandi and Nuapada. These eight districts comprise of 14 Subdivisions, 37 Tehsils, 80 CD Blocks, 1,437 Gram Panchayats and 12,293 villages. The eight districts which form the KBK account for 19.72% population occupy over 30.59% geographical area of the State. Around 90 % people of this region still live in villages. Female literacy is only 24.72%. As per the 1997 census of BPL families, about 72% families are below poverty line live in this region which was 82 % during 1992 census. More specifically, 49 CD Blocks of KBK districts are regarded as "very backward" and 28 CD Blocks are considered as "backward". Persistent crop failure, lack of access to the basic service and entitlements, starvation, malnutrition and migration are the leading manifestations in the region.
Myths about KBK development:
Removal of regional disparities has been one of the important planks of the development strategies adopted by Union as well as Orissa Government during successive Five Year Plans. A Long Term Action Plan (LTAP) for the KBK districts was formulated in consultation with the Centre for a period of seven years from 1995-96 to 2001-2002 and was formally launched by the then Prime Minister on August 18, 1995. LTAP was formulated with two principal objectives in view: (i) drought and distress proofing, and (ii) poverty alleviation and development saturation.
Despite the much-hyped declaration, subsequent events suggest that no separate provision were made in the Union budget in the name of "KBK Yojana". It was mentioned in the third Revised LTAP that in the field of rural development other then the allotted money of central plan there would be an additional requirement of Rs. 715.15 Crore.
Similarly, in the field of agriculture, health and family welfare, employment etc. there will be an additional requirement of Rs. 789.35 Crore. Going through such calculations the Union Ministry of Finance decided to provide an additional amount of Rs. 1503.85 Crore only.
Subsequently, another Central delegation headed by Yugandhar, the then Secretary of PMO, after holding discussion with the state government observed that at both the stage the required amount is Rs. 4,859 crore. In addition, after deducting the already allotted central assistance of Rs. 4,282.39 crore in those areas, it calculated that another Rs. 5,76.61 Crore could be provided for these areas. Finally, the grant amount came down to only a sum of Rs. 389.21 crore. In the subsequent years what was provided in the name of KBK Yojana or Revised LTAP was far below from what was announced originally.
Politics of development in KBK:
The first Special Area Development Programme (SADP) of the Union government was experimented in the region during 1958-1985 when the Dandakarnya Development Authority (DDA), a ministry of resettlement and rehabilitation was established by the Centre to rehabilitate and resettle the 30,000 refugee families of erstwhile East Pakistan. The early form of KBK was conceived involving Koraput-Bastar and Kalahandi where the refugees were supposed to be resettled.
However, finally the refugees were settled in Bastar and undivided Koraput district with huge central government investment, infrastructure, man power which has sustained for about 30 years. The project has acquired and reclaimed around 180,000 acres of land against the target of 260,000 acres for the purpose and launched a number of developmental programmes. Unfortunately, despite the stated mandate of DDA to redistribute the fruits of investment to the locals who have sacrificed their land, common property and natural resources for the projects have been largely forgotten and denied their legitimate share.
Furthermore, it is quite troubling to reconcile as how on earth the central government with all its frontline departments actively worked for 30 years in remote Malkangiri, Koraput and Bastar covering 30,052 sq km tribal land has failed to realise the intricacies, aspiration and development of the tribals and messed up with KBK development.
Successive political parties and ruling elites have tried their best to play with the starving people's aspiration into precious vote bank and continue to propagate and fuel the starvation and development politics as key election mantra. While, the Congress wanted to appease its loyal tribal voters through KBK yojana with multi million budget, the BJD conveniently used the time tested divide and rule policy as weapon to dismantle the collective bargaining of the people of these districts through redrawing the new district boundaries. Today the BJD has successfully demolished the Congress domination in the region and now repackaged the KBK in a brand new wrapper and named as Biju KBK. Time will tell whether the legends name will do any black magic in KBK.
In his report dated March 13, 2006 to NHRC, the Special Rapporteur, NHRC has observed, among other things, that " poverty in the KBK region has to be considered in its specific context by recognizing not only the incidence of poverty as per national norm but also the depth and severity of poverty which distinguishes it from poverty in other parts of the country and calls for special strategies and concerted action".
The New Delhi based Institute of Applied Manpower and Research, which was entrusted by the Union government to review the KBK programme revealed that despite of the Central aid of Rs 4,544 Crore under the KBK head (1995-96 to 2005-06), it has not really changed the living condition of the people.
Marathon KBK reviews by planning commission, state government and high powered committees, CAG's rims of reports on financial ineptness, mindboggling NHRC special rapporteurs observation and recommendation, lengthy debate and discussion in Parliament and State Assembly has hardly produced any significant and visible result in the region.
The failure of development, unequal resources distribution and depressing poverty has perhaps fueled the emergence of Maoist movement in this region. The radical people's movement has been slowly and steadily strengthening its base and influence in the tribal region. As a consequence, the central government's focus and priority for the region has significantly shifted from development to more of law enforcement and counter Maoist programme implementation.
On the other hand, the state government which used to demand and argue for more development funds for the KBK has started bargaining for more budget, infrastructure and equipment to tackle Maoist movement. It is a complex, egg and chicken situation for the government to consider whether development is the best way to tackle the spread of radical movement or armed counter strategies is the best option for brining development to the region.
Need for a collective vision and action:
Where to go from here? Is there any readymade, quick fix or instant recipe available to solve the historic, structural and complex social, economical, environmental, ethnic and political issues of KBK. No one has the answer, but the people of this region perhaps have some solution. Some process should be embarked on to involve, engage and give a patience hearing to common people's idea, suggestion and alternatives. The people led change process should begin afresh.
The process of engagement and idea's can be structured and open, cognitive level or based on practical experimentation, local knowledge or state of the art technology oriented, basic service, entitlement, social justice and resources management focused, larger policy formulation vis-à-vis enforcement of the existing ones, and notably, creating a political determination and bureaucratic action is must.
In an effort to engage, dialogue, critique, and contribute to the politics and processes of development policy and action in KBK, a forum known as "KBK roundtable" citizen's initiative for development and change has been underway. The forum is an open and voluntary platform for concern citizens from all walks of life to come together and to find out a local and collective solution to the historical deprivation, backwardness and poverty of people of KBK and the region through an active engagement with the government and civil society organizations for a better different and developed KBK. A viable forum need to be evolved as collective groups in all the eight districts including Phulbani and Gajapati districts to facilitate the following:
1. Create pressure group and be a watch dog on KBK development.
2. Socio-economic research to understand the issues in depth and educate the people and influence policy makers.
3. Create a pool of local experts and intelligentsia who can help rebuilding the lost vision and plan alternatives development paradigm.
4. Budgetary and financial analysis of programmes and projects in KBK to demystify the politics of budget, fund and its utilization.
5. Workshop, seminars and consultations to seek people views, suggestion and prepare peoples vision for a different KBK.
6. People's assembly and public hearing to expose bottleneck, irregularities and bungling of development fund and programmes.
7. Interaction with press, people in politics, bureaucrat, NGO and larger civil society to air dissent and alternatives.
8. Publication and disseminations to reach-out people, media and policy makers.
9. Networking and alliance building process to strengthen collective vision, action and advocacy.
10. Demand and assert revision of KBK plans and inclusion of other similar districts having similar problems and end regional disparities.
To post your messages, articles, write-up, issues for public discussions, documentary video and public event invitations at The National Forum of India (NFI) websites, simply send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. No sign-up required.