Twenty-fifteen saw a new government in Jharkhand that raised the hopes and expectations of people in the state who had a reason to be optimistic.
For the first time in the political history of the state since its formation in 2000, a government with an absolute majority had come to power.
People’s hopes were high as they had expected “acche din” to be round the corner with the Centre and the state having NDA governments. They hoped that the new regime would “undo wrongs of the previous regimes and put Jharkhand on the road to development”.
An overview of the year, however, exposes unfulfilled promises and announcements made by the Raghubar Das government. The chief minister during the vote of confidence in the assembly had promised a domicile and employment policy for locals in state jobs by April but failed implement it.
Its rationalisation of labour laws, tax system and other institutional and structural changes to woo investors failed to attract investments as expected.
Ramesh Sharan, a professor at Ranchi University, says, “Notwithstanding the raised ranking in ‘ease of doing business’, problem of land acquisition still continues and hope of setting up of a network of micro, small and medium enterprises in the state has not been realised.”
The government also failed on its promise to provide safe drinking water, houses for homeless, electrifying villages, round the clock power supply, food for all, road connectivity, generating a lakh jobs every year, wipe out left-wing extremists and improve law and order and security scenario in the state.
Housing schemes for below poverty line people and other target groups suffered with the Centre slashing the state’s quota for the Indira Awas Yojna.
The chief minister’s announcement to provide electricity to Santhal Parganas villages by July 31 also remains unfulfilled.
The Food Security Act, implemented after months of dithering and three date extensions, is still to be streamlined with hundreds of thousands of fake beneficiaries finding a place in the list.
The government’s promise to fill up vacant posts in schools and health centres remains unfulfilled.
The chief minister’s promise to end the “transfer regime” turned out hollow as 270 officers of the all India services were transferred during the year, in addition to hundreds of state services officers.
Bhuwaneshwar Mehta, former CPI state secretary, says the state government has failed to deliver on several fronts.
“The state government has no clear cut policy on displacement and rehabilitation. The public distribution system has failed with more than half of the grain being sold on the black market by hoarders and traders. Youngsters from the state are migrating to other states in search of jobs…”
“It has no policy to tackle drought even as farmers reel under debt and hunger,” he says.
Drought relief measures have not taken off even as the year ends. Balram, a social activist and Supreme Court- appointed commissioner for food security in the state, says, “The government was not serious on tackling drought.”
Relentless operations against rebels have seen a wane in extremist activities but the state witnessed communal flare -ups at Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Hazaribag and Palamu which were defused without any loss of life or property.
Crime against women also saw an upsurge with five women being lynched on the suspicion of practising witchcraft in Ranchi and the brutal rape of 9-year Dumaria girl in East Singhbhum which made national headlines after HT highlighted it.
The year also saw Ranchi deprived of hosting a South Africa-India one-day international due to a row between the Jharkhand State Cricket Association and public sector Heavy Engineering Corporation over lease agreement violation.
Iron ore supplies to steel majors SAIL and the Tata were disrupted over the renewal of mining lease.
The year, however, was beneficial for the state in terms of rail connectivity and introduction of four new trains from Jharkhand to different cities. The Dumka-Rampur Haat in West Bengal and Hazaribag-Koderma trains were flagged off.
A major stampede at the annual Shravani Mela at Deoghar which left 11 dead also exposed the state administration’s ability to handle big events.
A flurry of court strictures against the state executive over public issues of kidnapping of children, erosion of hills due to stone-crushing units, vehicular and river pollution, traffic in Ranchi and non-construction of flyovers in Ranchi.
Structural, institutional, procedural changes and simplification of tax regime and labour laws earned accolades from the World Bank and other funding agencies.
Pradeep Jain, director of Federation of Jharkhand Chambers of Commerce and industries, says, “All the measures would work only when the political will is translated into bureaucratic will as they are the functionaries on ground on whom the success of government initiatives hinges.”