MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta's children are literally getting "peanuts"

Published by MAC on 2011-04-04
Source: Indian Express (2011-03-29)

UK company indicted over Indian feeding farce

It was once dubbed "Food for Work" by the Indian government.

Since 2005, its more sophisticated version - the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) - supposedly guarantees 100 days of manual employment for every poor household in the country's rural areas "if demanded".

Now, a report by Delhi-based Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS) reveals that the majority of poor families in Orissa and UP didn't get even one day's employment from the scheme last year.

Moreover, associated public food distribution schemes, along with state benefits for the very poor, were virtually non-existent.

The report levels some of its strongest criticism against India's richest private mining enterprise, London-listed Vedanta Resources plc.

In recent years, the company has spared no effort in boasting of its feeding programme for young children living around its Lanjigarh alumina smelter complex in Orissa's Kalahandi state.

The programme has been consistently cited by Vedanta supremo, Anil Agarwal, to justify his company's widespread despoliation of the area.

Agarwal's low noon

But, according to CEFS, this so-called Integrated Child Development scheme (ISDS) "is only peanuts, literally and figuratively both.

"Sterlite/Vedanta-supported ICDS centres actually get a few kilograms of Chuda (flattened rice) and groundnut every month. In other words, every child in Vedanta] supported Anganvadis * gets 2-3 spoons of fried chuda mixed with groundnuts".

Says CEFS: "To put it in monetary terms, the Vedanta foundation's contribution to one ICDS centre is actually not more than Rs. 10,000-12,000 [around US$200-300) annually .

"It is a big scam to allow Vedanta to put up huge hoardings and advertisements at the ICDS centres about their contribution in running 400 anganwadi centres in Kalahandi district for just peanuts.

"Is this the kind of noon meal Vedanta is supposed to provide to these children?".

* Anganwadis are child- and mother-care centres, catering for the needs of children up to 6 years of age.

NGO reveals Orissa, UP NREGA discrepancy

By Debabrata Mohanty

Indian Express

29 March 2011

Bhubaneswar About four years after its first survey on the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Orissa's hinterlands that showed large-scale defalcation of money, the Delhi-based NGO Centre for Environment and Food Security today in its second performance audit revealed that 67 per cent of very poor Dalit and tribal households in Orissa and UP did not get even a single day of the NREGS employment during previous one year.

Besides, more than one third of extremely impoverished Dalit and tribal households in UP and Orissa remained completely out of the PDS [Public Distribution System]..

In December last year, the SC hearing a civil writ petition of the NGO alleging Rs 500 crore scam in NREGS in Orissa during 2006-07 had asked why it "should not order a CBI probe into the MGNREGS pilferage in Orissa".

The NGO which conducted a survey in 100 villages of six KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) districts between May and June 2007, found that there was systematic plunder of poors' right to guaranteed wage employment for 100 days and Rs 500 crore of the allocated Rs 733 crore for 2006-07 was defalcated by corrupt officials. On March 14 again, the SC asked the State government to order a CBI probe in 4 weeks or else it would be compelled to pass such a probe.

The NGO which again conducted performance audit of 10 food security and poverty alleviation schemes such as NREGS in Orissa and Uttar Pradesh during July-October 2010 through sample survey in 130 villages of 12 districts of Orissa and UP (Bundelkhand) has found that the two States hit the bottom over implementation of the schemes.

The schemes audited by the NGO were Public Distribution System, Antoday Anna Yojana, National Old Age Pension Scheme, Mid Day Meals, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS), National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS), Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozagar Yojana as well as NREGS.

In Orissa the NGO did its audit in Bolangir, Nuapada , Kalahandi, Ganjam , Gajapati, Sundergarh and Keonjhar while the sample districts in UP (Bundelkhand) were Chitrakoot, Banda, Mahoba, Hamirpur and Lalitpur. The questionnaire-based survey had a sample base of 3250 households of which 53.4 per cent were Dalits and 46.6 per cent tribals.

"About 77 per cent of the very poor and needy sample households in Orissa did not get even a single day of the NREGS employment during previous one year . The average NREGS employment actually provided to the surveyed households in Orissa during the previous one year was only about 4 days per household," said Parshuram Rai of CEFS Similarly, 28.3 per cent of the very poor tribal and Dalit households in Orissa said they did not have any ration card.

The status of NREGS in Nuapada and Kalahandi is worse . The average actual NREGS employment provided to per needy and eligible household in Nuapada district during previous 12 months was only 3.44 days.

Other findings of the survey are:

1. More than 28 per cent of the sample households in Orissa did not have any ration card.

2. Only 1.3 per cent of the total households said that their children were getting regular, adequate and satisfactory mid day meal in their schools. An overwhelming 73.3 per cent of the respondents said that their children were getting regular but inadequate and unsatisfactory meal in their schools.

3. The performance of ICDS in UP and Orissa is very bad . Only 0.6 per cent of the respondent households had received regular, adequate and satisfactory ICDS during previous 12 months. Local alleged that ICDS food was diverted and sold out in the black market as buffalo feed.

4. The performance of NFBS in Orissa and UP is so poor that most of the respondent households are not even aware about this scheme. Only 27 households in the total samples were found to be NFBS beneficiary . This scheme is as good as non-existent.

5. Only 4 households out of 3250 had availed NMBS benefit during previous 5 years. Only 1 household in Orissa (Bolangir) and 3 households in UP ( 2 in Mahoba and 1 in Lalitpur) had received benefit under NMBS .

6. Only 22 households in the total samples said that they had availed some benefits under SGSY. All 22 SGSY beneficiary households were from UP.

The NGO also slammed Vedanta Alumina which had promised quality mid-day meal to the children of Rajendrapur village under Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district, but gave peanuts under ICDS scheme.

"In the name of running and supporting ICDS centres, Vedanta's contribution is only peanuts, literally and figuratively both. Sterilite/Vedanta supported ICDS centres actually get a few kilograms of Chuda(flattened rice) and groundnut every month. In other words, every child in Vedanta supported Anganvadis gets 2-3 spoons of fried chuda mixed with groundnuts.

"To put it in monetary terms, the Vedanta foundation's contribution to one ICDS centre is actually not more than Rs. 10,000-12,000 annually . It is a big scam to allow Vedanta to put up huge hoardings and advertisements at the ICDS centres about their contribution in running 400 anganwadi centres in Kalahandi district for just peanuts," CEFS survey said asking "is this the kind of noon meal Vedanta is supposed to provide to these children.

The only bright spot seemed to be the performance of National Old Age Pension Scheme with 97 per cent of the NOAPS card holders admitting getting regular and full amount of pension.

The NGO in its survey however found that the implementation of these schemes was far better in Orissa than in Bundelkhand, where 63.5 per cent of these extremely poor dalit/tribal households had neither BPL nor AAY cards and, therefore had no access to PDS grain.

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