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Bin Mausam Barsaat Might Wash Away Our Chana Dal

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Mokama “Taal” is situated 90 kilometers away from Bihar’s capital city Patna, which is part of central Bihar. It is ephemeral in nature and comprises a group of seven continuous “taal”.

The seven taal are Fatuha, Bakhtiarpur, Barh, More, Mokama, Barhariya and Singhaul. It starts from Fatuha in the west to Lakhisarai in the east. It covers an area of 1062 sq km  and their width ranges from 6 km to 17.6 km. This part basically comes under the Kiul Harohar basin. After the monsoon, whole area has water up ranging from 4 meters to 6 meters.

Bihar’s northern and southern parts have two different weather conditions. The two different weather conditions is one of the main reason for the high density of water in the “taal” area. It is situated in central Bihar.

The “taal” region has a high yield rate of crops but due to water stagnation, it fails to produce at its optimal capacity. Mokama Taal is the second biggest producer of lentils. It is also known as ‘Lentil Bowl’. It can feed the whole country for six months. The varieties of lentils produce are Masoor Daal, Moong Daal, Chana Daal, and other varieties.

Lack Of Facilities

Due to lack of better drainage facilities, the whole region is submerged in water for more than four months. In case if the water takes a long time to recede, the farmers have to suffer due to this. They are unable to sow the seeds on time. Basically, 15th of October is an ideal time to do so but for the last three years, it is done in the month of November.

There was a tradition in “taal” that during the time of the holy festival of “Chhat”, the devotees used to have “chana saag” but nowadays, we have to sow our crops after “Chhat”.

One lakh farmers and five lakhs labourers are dependent on these crops. Labourers from the neighbouring state of Jharkhand are called for help in the cultivation process. According to a Newslaundry report, if the crops yield goes well, they earn 7 to 8 lakhs from lentils alone.

The major reasons for waterlogging in the “taal” area are low-lying land. It means the land of the “taal” is on the lower side toward the rivers and the carrying capacities are also low along with other factors such as the backflow of Ganga towards the Punpun, and absence of drainage channels and irrigation system.

Many development programs were introduced by many different states as well. First was ‘Mokama Drainage Scheme’ in 1969 followed by the Irrigation minister Dr. KL Rao visiting the “taal” area. He checked the work of building embankments on the right side of Punpun and both side of Harohar rivers to check the water of Ganga.

In the year 1988, Sanyal committee submitted the report, named ‘Mokama Taal Technical Cum Development Committee’. The committee said that people should cultivate some water-resistant Kharif crops. It also suggested using tube-wells and lift irrigation.

According to a gaonconnection report, people said till date, no recommendations of have been executed on the ground.  People want this committee should be implemented because it gives security for a long period of time.

Silt is also one of the main reasons for waterlogging. After the monsoon flood in North Bihar, the small rivers brought silt to Ganga following which a virtual jam has been created slowing down the flow of water. Many experts believe the main reason behind the building of Farakka Barrage after its creation was the silt problem that arose in the river Ganga. Deposition of silts is enhancing the concern of the people.

Are Policies And Schemes Sufficient?

Ganga Udbhav Yojana” is one of the most ambitious project of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Under this project, the 190 kilometers long water pipe will be made through which the Holy Ganga water will be taken to four districts namely Gaya, Bodhgaya Nalanda and Nawada.

The water will be discharged from the “taal” region so that the region will not hold the water for a longer time. The government has said that this will help to maintain the water table of those districts which have water deficit issues.

People of “taal” region are concerned that those districts which are being joined through this pipeline project that if the water in monsoon is to come to their region only then why the government should not stop the said water there?

I talked to the convenor of ‘Taal Samiti’ Anand Murari and asked him about the promise which was made by the Water Resources minister that the water will be taken out during the monsoon. There is only one way for the drainage of water. that is through Harohar.

He told me no such things are happening and that since he is a minister, he can say anything. About “Ganga Udbhav Yojana”, he said that the government has ample money. They use it as they wish. However, this project would change nothing in the “taal” areas.

The government is not taking our problems seriously. They should plan aloof for the taal region,” He concluded.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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