This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Where Exactly Are Farmer Relief Funds Going In UP? Cobrapost Sting Reveals Ugly Truth

More from Abhishek Jha

By Abhishek Jha

A village girl carries empty containers to collect drinking water near Chilla village in the Bundelkhand region of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Image source: REUTERS/Pawan Kumar
Image source: REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

While a drought may appear to be a natural calamity, the situation of the farmers in the face of it can be aggravated by our response to it. A new Cobrapost report unravels this aspect of droughts through a look at the droughts that regularly afflict the Bundelkhand region, which is comprised of seven districts in Uttar Pradesh (Jhansi, Jalaun, Lalitpur, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda and Chitrakoot) and six districts in Madhya Pradesh (Datia, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Damoh, Sagar and Panna), and has been vulnerable to drought throughout history. According to a 2014 report published by National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), a drought in the UP part of the region “became evident in 2004-05 with a 25% shortfall in monsoon rains. The rainfall deficit increased further to 43% in 2006-07 and 56% in 2007-08, leading to severe (metrological) drought conditions in Mahoba, Jhansi and Chitrakut districts. Except Tikamgarh and Datia districts, drought in the Bundelkhand region of MP commenced from 2006-2007.”

Following this shortage of rainfall, there was a severe decline in water supply (hydrological drought) in the period 2005-2007. Since more than half of the workers of the region are agriculture dependent, this was a severe crisis. The same has continued throughout, with reports of drought even this past year.

The Relief Package

A Bundelkhand relief package was approved by the Central government in 2009 which promised Rs. 3506 crores for the state of U.P. and Rs. 3760 crores for M.P. to mitigate the drought conditions. Several hundred crores more have been provided to both the states as Additional Central Assistance since then. However, little or none of that has benefitted the people on ground, although huge portions of it have been marked spent for projects on paper. The complaints of the people range from inadequate support, poor implementation of schemes, to demands of bribe from the administration, all pointing to possible mass corruption in the disbursement of the package.

There were several schemes that were part of relief package, which could provide assistance to those involved in agriculture. Cobrapost interviewed people from four districts of the region Lalitpur, Jhansi, Chhatarpur and Tikamgarh and asked them about the implementation of the schemes related to the package.

Allegations Of Widespread Corruption

Across districts, a common refrain heard from all interviewees is that they were asked to pay a bribe to get the compensation, which included – depending on their occupation – payment for procurement of tools, a herd of goats for rearing, a plot of land for rehabilitation, construction of wells, etc. Farmers who were promised money for procurement of tools were given substandard tools, which soon broke down. Similarly, several villagers complain that the goat-herd provided was diseased and several of the goats died. One Lachchi Ram from Kumhariya village of Jhansi was asked to build his own well, at which he tried and failed, while spending Rs 77,000. Although the well was supposed to be built free of cost for him, he was not even paid a reimbursement for his expenditure and labour.

Similar complaints of negligence are made for other public amenities that were to be provided. Sometimes the work done led to more harm than good. The check dams, being of poor quality, broke very soon. Canals built for irrigation either flood the fields or don’t reach them, wells and dairies that were built are defunct. In Vijaygarh, another village of Jhansi, local officials allegedly tried to cover up their acts during an audit by getting a contractor to fill an incomplete well with water from a tanker.

Long-Pending Complaints

The complaints, however, did get some attention and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, visited the region in December 2011. However, Bhanu Sahai, Chairman of the Bundelkhand Package Monitoring Committee tells Cobrapost that the enquiry that was ordered has not seen any result. He also complains of the lack of transparency arising from non-computerised records, which he suggests are a ploy to embezzle money.

The sheer scale of apathy and neglect that the region has faced could become an election campaign. But one can hardly hear any mention of Bundelkhand in the increased rhetoric exchange happening ahead of the UP Assembly elections in 2017. Afraid of being reminded of one’s own dirty laundry, all parties are reluctant to make any real problem an election campaign. The BJP that rode to victory on the scam-ridden history of the incumbent governments in Maharashtra and Haryana could hardly talk of ‘development’ in Bihar. A sting conducted by Cobrapost had similarly exposed the perpetrators of the 1990s massacres of Dalits in Bihar just before the elections. Although the report saw perpetrators flaunting links with BJP leaders, the Grand Alliance did not speak a word on it, because it was the JD(U)-BJP coalition led by Nitish Kumar that had shunted the Justice Amir Das Commission investigating the massacres. In election rhetoric, Bundelkhand too is likely to be completely forgotten, just like its relief package. It is important that we pay attention to these reports and force political parties to acknowledge and solve the problem.

You must be to comment.

More from Abhishek Jha

Similar Posts

By Sonali Pandey

By Oishani Nandi

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below