Sunday, October 26, 2008

KBK situation is still miserable

BHUBANESWAR, Oct 26: Two decades of focused intervention, entailing pumping in crores of rupees, seems to have had little impact on the notoriously backward KBK region (erstwhile undivided Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi districts) according to the Food Security Atlas released by World Food Programme and Institute for Human Development.
"It is surprising that the efforts put into the development of the region have not yielded tangible results," states the report, while dealing with KBK region and noting that widespread malnutrition and mortality levels are a pointer to the dismal situation.
The region is characterised by wastelands, scrublands, low agriculture development, abysmally low literacy levels and high malnutrition levels.
The KBK region accounts for 31 per cent of the total area of the state, but only 20 per cent of the total population indicating low density of population. A huge part of the region is unfit for cultivation and is mostly degraded forests and scrublands. Koraput, for instances, has more than 1,000 sq kms of its area under wastelands.
Low levels of land development in the region have resulted in poor performance on the agricultural front. Despite all talk of wasteland development, the fact is that the region has not benefited from the programme as yet.
Consequent to this is the fact that very small area can be cultivated twice in an agricultural year and the cropping intensity is low. Only 19 per cent of the total area of Rayagada district is under cultivation while it is barely 20 per cent in Malkangiri district, 35 per cent in Koraput, 37 per cent in Bolangir and 41 percent in Kalahandi. The KBK average works out to 35.5 per cent in terms of area under cultivation.
The food grain yield per heactre in KBK region is 590 kg with the yield per hectare in some districts like Nuapada being as low as 221 kg, Bolangir 302 kg and Kalahandi 491 kg said the report.
Less than five per cent of the surveyed tribal population were found to be in a food secure situation in these districts. The proportion of extremely food insecure tribal households that can hardly manage one square meal a day is highest in Rayagada district at almost 12 per cent of the tribal population being unable to get one meal per day for major part of the year. Five of the eight districts in the region have a less than 10 per cent urbanisation level and these districts have a very high proportion of STs, almost twice the proportion of tribes in other parts of the state.
Other parameters too show that KBK is lagging behind the rest of the state. Koraput, Nawarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada have a rural female literacy rate of less than 20 per cent. The food insecurity status of the region manifests itself in high mortality and malnourishment. Most of the districts in the region record over 150 child deaths per 1000 live births and over 40 percent of the children are in the moderately underweight category.
Shockingly, the situation prevailing in KBK region is despite special interventions in the form of Area Development for Poverty Termination (ADAPT) in 1988 followed by the Long Term Action Plan ( LTAP) in 1993 and the Revised Long Term Action Plan ( RLTAP) in 1998. Each of these schemes involved expenditure of crores of rupees towards overall improvement of the region, feeding programmes, water harvesting etc.

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