AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION

FAMINES

Chandrapur has, unhappily for itself, a long record of famine or scarcity, and the rice tract has been particularly unfortunate. There are no authentic records of famines prior to the 19th century, but the opening years of that century were one unbroken series of disasters. This was the period of the Pindari incursions when every village had its fort and men tilled and reaped with weapons girth at their side. Chandrapur lay in the full sweep of the Pindari raids of devastation, and suffered accordingly. Two years stand out as the worst of the series, viz., 1804 and 1818. The latter was the year of the sack of Chanda by the British, when the general confusion was heightened and perpetuated by the confiscation of enormous numbers of cattle by the invaders. Of organised famine relief in these years there was none; it may rather be said that such organisation as there was in the unhappy country was directed towards accentuating the misery of its inhabitants. So great was the exhaustion of the countryside that it is said that in 1822 the population of Chandrapur was only half of what it had been in 1802.

The famine of 1832.

The next year of famine was 1832, and the cause was excessive rain accompanied by insect pests. A certain amount of relief was administered by the Maratha Government, which was still imbued with the traditions of the British Protectorate. The Government granaries were thrown open to the poor, and the local Banias were ordered to sell their stocks, the State undertaking to recoup them at the end of the famine.

The famine of 1868-69.

Chandrapur was one of the first Districts to feel the stress of the famine of 1868-69. In 186.8, the monsoon broke unusually early and the ground became so saturated that the dahia method of cultivation which then prevailed through half the area of the District became impracticable. June and July were months of heavy rainfall, but were followed by three weeks of dry weather which ruined much of the rice and seemed about to compass the destruction of every kind of crop when the heavens once more opened, and for the next six weeks the weather was all that could be wished. But then ensued another rainless fortnight, and by September it became clear that the damage to rice was irremediable, and that the outturn of the other crops was not sufficient to counter-balance its failure. The wild roots, too, to which the poorer classes resort in default of more palatable food, were this year unusually scanty, and a panic, accompanied by a general outburst of crime, began to set in. The distress was most acute in the north-east of the District which is the chief rice area, and emigration began to take place from this part. Relief works were, however, opportunely taken in hand, and cheeked this tendency. In September 1868, there were six such works, but in April 1869 the number was increased to nine, five of which were directed to repairing tanks, and the other four to the construction of roads. The cost of these works was Rs. 13,644 and was met out of a Pandhari grant. Advances to the amount of Rs. 5.500 were made to traders for the importation of grain, and storehouses were established at which grain was sold at cost price. Although emaciation was general, there were only two recorded instances of death from actual starvation,  and there was not, as might have been expected, any unusual epidemic mortality. Nor did any large area drop out of cultivation. But it is said that the memory of this famine lingers in the nickname ' sixty-niner' which is still applied to anyone who 'wolfs' his food.

Bad years 1892-1895.

The District appears to have enjoyed immunity from scarcity thenceforward until the early nineties. With the monsoon of 1891, commenced the cycle of lean years which culminated in the famines of 1897 and 1900. Floods, followed by a rainless cold weather, reduced the total outturn of the year 1891-92 to 60 per cent of the normal. The price of rice went up slightly and of juari by 4 seers the rupee, but no distress was felt except among the jungle tribes of Sironcha, who were relieved by the step taken of throwing open to them forest blocks for the collection of edible products. Road-work was commenced in certain other distressed tracts, but did not attract many workers. In 1892-93, the autumn crops, with the exception of kodon, fared moderately well, but heavy rains in the latter part of the cold weather induced rust in wheat and linseed, and the total outturn of the year was but 61 per cent of the normal. Prices, however, remained steady. The monsoon of 1893 was characterised by a long break which seriously impeded the transplantation of rice, and was followed by a continuous downpour, the consequence of which was that the rice plants were attacked by the disease known as gad, and the transplanted crop was almost entirely ruined. Cloudy weather in the cold season brought about rust among the spring crops, and the total outturn of the year was only 53. Some anxiety was felt as to the situation in 1894, but prices still ruled steady and road-works, started as an experiment to ascertain the gravity of the distress, failed to attract labourers in any numbers. With the early rice harvest in October, all apprehension was set at rest. Nevertheless, the death rate of 1894 which rose to nearly 34 as compared with 27 in 1893, and was accompanied by a stationary birth rate, indicated that the prolonged deficiency of harvests was beginning to tell on the population. The year 1894-95, though not quite so unfavourable as its predecessors, was not free from misfortunes; continuous rain in the early monsoon damaged juari and cotton, which subsequently suffered still further from a plague of caterpillars; linseed was much affected by rust, while the wheat plants were unhealthy and their ears failed to fill out satisfactorily. Rice however did well. The total outturn for all crops was 64 per cent.

The year 1895-96.

The following year, 1895-96, was a very fair one and an average outturn of 77 per cent of the normal enabled the agriculturist. if not to recoup the losses he had suffered of recent years, at any rate to maintain his position.

The Scarcity of 1897.

The agricultural year 1896-97 opened with the brightest prospects, and up to the end of August 1896 a bumper outturn harvest was confidently anticipated. But throughout September and October the rain held off altogether, and the crops rapidly deteriorated. The same condition of affairs continued into November and caused grave anxiety as to the fate of the spring crops, Hope was to some extent revived by a fall of rain at the end of November, but the ensuing months of the cold weather were exceedingly deficient in rainfall, and this had a disastrous effect on the rabi outturn. The outturns of rice, wheat and linseed, were only between one-half and one-quarter of the normal, and juari and til were the only crops which even approached the average. About the end of December 1896, reports of distress began to come in, especially from the zamindaris, where the rice crop had altogether failed, and District works were put in hand to relieve the situation. Want of water and fodder began to be felt in April and continued to increase till July. The people had sold the juari and rice straw which is usually reserved as fodder for cattle, and made no attempt to replace it by collecting leaves or storing grass. The mortality among cattle, which had been under 10,000 in 1896, rose to almost 25,000. Although the District was never officially recognised as distressed, it was for a long time on the verge of being so declared, and the situation was such as to call for measures of relief on a fairly large scale, both by the agency of the District offcials and by private charity. Prices rose rapidly: in March 1897 they stood at one and a half, and in July 1897 at two and a half times their usual rates. The average price of rice during the period from October 1896 to October 1897 was 9.38 seers to the rupee, and of juari 12.48 seers. The highest prices reached at any period were 7.5 and 8.6 seers respectively. But it was not found necessary to take any special measures for the importation of grain except in Sironcha, where the cultivators had recklessly sold the whole of an excellent juari crop to traders from Hyderabad and Madras and as a result found their grain stocks entirely depleted. Even in Sironcha the importations were not on a large scale. On the other hand, exports of grain took place on such a large scale as to cause some apprehension: 59.218, maunds of grain left Warora in 1896 and 126,555 tons in 1897. as compared with an average of between 1100 and 1200 maunds in the two preceding years. Only two relief works under the management of the Public Works Department were taken in hand. These were a road from Ambagarh-Chauki in the northern zamindaris to Nandgaon, and a tank at Ambagarh-Chauki. The numbers at work on these never exceeded 2,700, and included many persons from adjoining Feudatory States. Tanks were also undertaken as local works in 20 other villages, and as loan works in 451 villages, the funds for these latter being provided by a grant of Rs. 48,000 under the Land Improvement Loans Act and by a special famine loan allotment of Rs. 1,15,000. Besides this, work on tanks to the value of Rs. 28,500 was done by the private enterprise of malguzars and zamindars. Gratuitous village relief, which had been commenced in the hot weather, came into full swing in July when the advent of the rains put an end to the tank work. Sixty-eight centres were formed and put in charge of non-official committees. To these centres all wanderers were sent for relief, and from them daily or weekly doles were made to indigent persons. The average number of persons thus relieved was 5836 and the maximum 8887 at the end of October. Kitchens were also established for children at various places, and the numbers attending these rose to 1652 in October 1897. Private charity was not idle and out of a sum of Rs. 55,000 contributed from this source in cash or kind, Rs. 17,500 represented subscriptions raised in the District, a larger sum than was collected in any other District of the Province. A contribution of over Rs. 30,000 from the Mansion House Fund was chiefly utilised in advances for the purchase of seed-grain, while the equally necessary provision of funds for the purchase of plough bullocks was secured by advances amounting to over Rs. 14,000 under the Agricultural Loans Act. Malguzars were induced to sell grain to their tenants at favourable rates, and c heap grain shops were opened at each tahsil headquarters and at three villages in the Lower Talukas of Sironcha. But the most far-reaching measures, and that which undoubtedly prevented the distress from becoming terribly acute in the zamin-daris and in Sironcha, was the throwing open of the forests for the collection and removal of edible roots and fruit, grass and fuel. In this matter, and also in the initiation of tank work, an excellent example was set by Gangsha Bapu, the zamindar of Palasgarh, whose lead was followed by all the other zamindars. No remissions or suspensions of revenue were granted by Government, and the area under cultivation not only did not contract but actually expanded by some 34,000 acres. In spite of the undoubted distress that prevailed, the statistics of mortality were not high, and were actually lower than in the preceding year of comparative prosperity. But it may be doubted whether the official returns on this head are reliable. Certain it is that there was a very general impression that the gravity of the distress was consistently minimised, and that specially in the more remote tracts, the distress was very acute.

The interval between the famines.

The monsoon of 1897 broke late, and the situation up to the second week of July was critical in the extreme. But the rain came in time to avert disaster, and having once made a commencement. continued to fall seasonably so that both the autumn and spring crops were excellent, giving a combined outturn of 109 throughout the District. The year 1898-99 was not quite so favourable. There was an unusually heavy and continuous fall of 21 inches in July, which retarded weeding operations, but in September the rain ceased abruptly, and deficient rainfalls in October and November, followed by a rainless cold weather, were prejudicial to the spring crops. The combined outturn of the year was 73 per cent of the normal.

The famine of 1900.

The hot weather of 1899 was characterised by abnormal showers which were read as an omen of disaster. The monsoon was rather late and very weak, less than two inches of rain being registered in July. In August there was a general and most welcome rainfall, which for a time improved prospects, but with September the rain practically ceased, and famine became assured. The total rainfall of the year was only 20 inches. Cotton did fairly well, but the rice failed almost entirely, and the total outturn for all crops was only 27 per cent of the normal. Prices went up with a rush in October 1899, and at Chanda reached in that month the high figure of 7 seers per rupee for rice and 9 for juari, as compared with normal rates of 14 and 24 respectively. The Banias held up their stocks in the hopes of a further tightening of the market, but they were promptly countered by extensive importations by Government of Bengal rice. Over half a million maunds of food-grains were imported during the famine by rail alone, while it is impossible to say how much more came into the District by other means of transit. This policy eased the markets till May, when, owing to the expected advent of the rains which would render transport a matter of the greatest difficulty, prices again rose and thenceforward continued at a high level until the new rice harvest was assured. In the interior of the District, prices were still more stringent, and in some of the more remote parts never went below 5 seers to the rupee for rice during June and July 1900.

The official duration of the famine was from September 1899 to October 1900, but relief operations in this District continued till the end of the year. The scarcity was most intense in the trans-Wainganga tract. The Brahmapuri tahsil as a whole, depending as it does almost entirely upon the rice crop, was very severely hit, but Warora was less seriously affected, while true famine conditions can scarcely be said to have existed in Sironcha. Before the commencement of relief operations, the refusal of the Banias to sell their grain stocks provoked several grain riots, especially in the vicinity of Talodhi, but this tendency was promptly checked by the police. Want of water and fodder began to be felt in January, and by April nearly all wells were dry. Fortunately, the net-work of nullahs which covers the District provided a solution of the difficulty, so far as drinking water for human beings was concerned, and this was obtainable throughout the hot weather by digging holes in their beds. In the early part of 1900, some consolation was afforded by the unprecedented flowering of the bamboos which gave an unexpected supply of food to the poorer classes, and by the fair promise of the mahua crop. The numbers on relief fluctuated between 60,000 and 80,000 up to April, when suddenly the mahua crop absolutely failed, a wholly unforeseen calamity, the intensity of which cannot be exaggerated when it is considered to what an extent the large jungly population of this District depends on the products of the mahua for its food supply. The numbers on relief immediately rose with a bound, until at the end of May they stood at over 180,000. The sufferings of the cattle, meanwhile, were dreadful, as it was impossible to provide water for them. But the flood of disaster had not yet exhausted itself. In the middle of June, cholera broke out and raged furiously, and immediately over 40,000 people stampeded from the relief camps carrying the disease to the four corners of the District. Mr. Coxon, the Deputy Commissioner, wrote of this period: - By the end of June every element of destruction appeared to have combined against the people of this District, and with the rains holding off, the prospects were of the gloomiest. The heat was something that had never before been experienced, and men were dropping daily from sunstroke. Cholera was raging to such an extent that it was found impossible to collect people together in any one place, even for the distribution of the money which was so urgently required for the purchase of food, while fires were sweeping villages off the face of the earth wholesale '. At length the monsoon broke, though late, dissipating the cholera epidemic, but even then, owing to the general poverty and the scarcity of seed-grain, pressure did not relax, and the numbers on kitchen relief went on increasing, until in September they rose to over 227,000. The nullahs were, with the advent of the monsoon, transformed from a blessing into a curse, constituting a most formidable barrier against the transit of grain, and rendering relief operations a matter of the greatest difficulty. About the middle of September, the numbers on relief began to decline, at first slowly, but in the early part of October by 5,000 or 6,000 a day, until by the end of that month they stood at only 77,000. Nevertheless, owing to the backwardness of the kharif harvest, the famine lingered on for a period not paralleled in the rest of the Province; mortality continued high and prices obstinately refused to fall. Whereas elsewhere famine relief practically ceased after the middle of November, in this District kitchens continued to the end of that month, and the village relief list was not finally closed till the end of the year.

Mortality.

The mortality from September 1899 to October 1900 was, according to the official returns, 51,663 deaths or 89.75 per mille of the population, and for the calendar year 1900 the rate of mortality was 96.62. The highest mortality for any one month was 17 per mille in June, when cholera was at its height. Over 43 per cent of the casualties took place among children under 10 years of age. and infant mortality was, owing to an abnormal number of births in the preceding year, especially heavy. Cholera accounted for 8,000 deaths, fever for 19,000 and bowel complaints for nearly 5,500. These latter are supposed to have been largely induced by the use of Bengal rice. Only one death was actually attributed to starvation, but an immense amount of the mortality from other causes must of course have been due to the reduced condition of the persons attacked.

Condition of the cattle.

If the condition of the people was pitiable, the fate of their cattle was still more appalling. Something was done towards providing them with fodder, but the water difficulty was insuperable, and they died like flies from thirst. The exorbitant rates prevaling for cart-hire were the death of many a poor beast driven till he dropped dead from sheet exhaustion. The sides of the road from Warora to Chandrapur were strewn along its whole length with corpses of animals which had perished thus, and the scenes at the river-crossings were too ghastly for description. The privation of water was not confined to domestic animals. Tigers were shot or stoned to death in village wells. One officer, adapting himself to the circumstances of the time, sat over a trough of water in place of the usual buffalo, thus securing on one occasion two tigers in one beat. Strangest of all, during well-deepening operations in Alapalli in the month of May, there were simultaneously found alive in one well seven monkeys, one nilgai, three sambhar, and five bison, a collection which was the makings of no mean menagerie. When the ranis came, and the starving survivors of the cattle fell upon the young grass, the mortality caused by the surfeit of food acting on their impaired digestive organs was something frightful. Altogether it was estimated by Mr. Coxon that at least 120,000 or 25 to 30 per cent of the entire stock of cattle must have perished. Plough cattle alone, which would naturally have been most carefully preserved and earliest replaced, decreased by 20,000 in the year.

The measures of relief taken to combat the situation were admirably organised and worthy of its gravity. In the words of one of those who were relieved ' it was all very wonderful and the Sarkar regarded money as gitti, so long as the people were kept alive '. The direct expenditure on the several heads of famine relief amounted to 23 lakhs, and out of this expenditure 303/4 million day units were relieved at an incidence per diem of 1.19 annas per unit. Suspensions of land revenue amounted to 2.15 lakhs, while the value of forest concessions was 1.62 lakhs. The amount of land revenue suspended represents 74 per cent of the total demand, and in fact the only sums collected were those due from non-rice villages. Besides this, Government distributed 3.65 lakhs in taccavi loans to enable the cultivators to complete their sowings for 1900-01, while 1.86 lakhs were distributed in free gifts for the same purpose to the poorer cultivators out of the Charitable Relief Fund. Within the District itself, a sum of over Rs. 68,000 was collected by private subscription on the understanding that it should be all disbursed locally. Nearly Rs. 30,000 of it was utilised in buying clothes from local weavers, and was thus made to serve twice over for purposes of relief.

Measures of relief.

No poor houses or pauper wards were established. Kitchens were organised at the commencement of the famine, but were discontinued for a time in the khalsa when the camps opened, although in the zamindaris they were always a main feature. Relief camps under the management of the Public Works Department were opened in October, and formed the backbone of the operations until well on in the hot weather. The total number of Public Works charges opened was sixteen, and the maximum open at any one time was fifteen. The largest number of workers on relief at any time was 80,895 on the 12th of May, or over 72 per cent of the total numbers on famine relief at that time. The Forest Department, besides forming camps for the construction of two roads, with tank works annexed, took in hand extensive fodder operations for the supply of Wardha and the Bombay Presidency: 26 grass depots were established and 7,109 tons of grass collected. The maximum number relieved by forest works was rather over 9,000 towards the end of May. Other fodder operations in the zamindari forests of the north were put in charge of the Manager of the Court of Wards, and, though not financially successful, gave useful relief to the neighbouring population. Tank schemes involving an expenditure of 31/4 lakhs were drawn up, and numerous tanks were taken in hands as village works. At the close of the hot weather 179 such works were in operation and the number of workers on them was over 26,000. In April, the failure of the mahua crop necessitated special measures, and an enormous impetus was given to kitchen relief. A special staff had to be engaged, as it was no longer possible to manage the kitchens by the agency of volunteers. With the opening of the rains, the relief policy had to be modified to suit the altered conditions. Relief camps became unsuitable, as the one great object was to make the people go back to their villages, and let them work in the fields, in the meanwhile feeding them and keeping them in health. Village relief now became the order of the day, and the form which it took was chiefly the extension of the kitchen system. In July, the rush was so great that 200 subsidiary kitchens were started and put in charge of mukaddams. The highest number of kitchens simultaneously at work at any one time was 239, with 161,443 inmates. All inmates were required to do some service in return for their food, and gratuitous relief was confined to cripples, blind persons, and the dependants of kotwars. Relief in return for work in village (B list relief) was found especially necessary in the case of cultivators of small means, and was more freely resorted to than in any other District of the Province. The workers were mainly employed in carrying grain to kitchens and depots. The numbers on B list relief reached a maximum of over 54,000 about the middle of September. The maximum number of persons on relief of all kinds at any one time was 180,673 during the open season and 224,799 during the rains. This latter figure represented 32 per cent of the total population.

Famine works

Of the sixteen roads taken in hand by the Public Works  Department, none were actually brought to completion although  earth and muram were laid along 32 miles of the road from Warora to Chimur. Nineteen tanks were, however, constructed as annexes to these roads, and notably four very fine tanks were built at Naotalla. The Forest Department constructed an excellent second-class road 18 miles in length from Chandrapur to Moharli and another 5 miles in length from Alapalli to  Ahiri, besides some tanks. Altogether, as village or forest works, 4 new tanks were constructed, and 238 existing tanks were restored or improved, while seven new roads were taken in hand, of which five were completed. Ten wells were also sunk.

Attitude of the peopie.

Crime naturally received an impetus during the progress of the famine, especially in Brahmapuri, where the number of thefts and house-breakings increased by over 600. But the attitude of the people as a whole, except for the grain riots in the early days of the distress, was one of complete apathy or fatalism. Mr. Coxon describes it as one of ' absolute indifference combined with a perfect confidence in the Sarkar'. As to their appreciation of the efforts made by Government to alleviate their misery, the prevailing impression at the time seems to have been that real gratitude was conspicuous by its absence, although lip-gratitude, especially in acknowledgment of gifts of clothing, was fairly common. Doles and wages were usually grumbled at as insufficient and the usual cry in the kitchens was for more or for a different kind of food, or a gift of clothing. But it is admitted that it is very difficult to gauge the real feelings of the people by their actions or expressions, and it is certain that the indelible impression left by the famine is always coupled in the minds of all with a profound conviction of the immense efforts made by Government to cope with an unparalleled disaster.

Casualties of the Famine staff.

Thirty officials, all natives, lost their lives in conducting the campaign against the famine, while many others were invalided.

The year 1900-01.

The monsoon of 1900 commenced late, and the period of suspense during which it was awaited was the most trying period of the whole famine. However, rain at length fell heavily, and enabled agricultural operations to commence. But in spite of all that loans from Government and private charity could do, such was the general poverty and so great had been the wastage in agricultural stock that it was impossible to avert an enormous shrinkage of the area under kharif cultivation which fell by 112,000 acres. Extensive rabi sowings, however, adjusted the shortage. The monsoon ceased abruptly at the end of September to the general detriment of broadcast rice, but cotton gave an outturn of 80 and juari and transplanted rice were 90 each, so that the autumn harvest was on the whole fair. But the spring crops suffered not only from a contraction of the area under cultivation but also from the entire absence of rain from October to December, followed, when the crops were ripening, by the setting in of wet and cloudy weather accompanied by a visitation of insects. Wheat gave an outturn of only 45, gram of 30, and linseed of 22. The outturn of all crops combined amounted only to 46. In April 1901 the situation looked gloomy, and preparations were in hand for further relief operations, when suddenly the peril of famine was averted by an unexpected windfall. The mahua crop which, owing to the unseasonable weather, had been considered foredoomed to failure, flower- ed with extraordinary abundance long after the normal season, and the poor were thus provided with a stock of food to tide them over the rains. No relief was necessary and the works already opened were at once closed. Prices fell in the case of juari by o seers below the preceding year's figures, and in the case of rice by 1 seers. But the effects of the famine were clearly visible in a reduced birth rate of 21 per mille during 1901.

Succeeding years.

The year 1901-02 was marked by the prevalence of insect pests, and though the cotton crop was good and the rice fair, the combined outturn of the year was only 59, so that the process of recovery was again retarded. The monsoon of 1902 was a weak one. but, in spite of an almost total failure of the rice crop, the total outturn amounted to 78, and the condition of the District gave no cause for anxiety. Next year, 1903-04, was a much better one, and of the important crops, cotton alone gave an outturn of less than 80 per cent. The condition of the agricultural classes continued to improve, but the progress made was slow in the rice tracts, where there was a strong tendency to await the announcement of the new settlement before making really strenuous exertions to retrieve past losses. The monsoon of 1904 followed the example of most of its recent predecessors in causing grave anxiety for a period, but plentiful September rains came to the rescue, and the outturn of the year was 91. The year was a good one for cotton, and the open field tracts, and those tracts with mixed or intermediate cultivation which lie near the best markets and trade routes may be said by this time to have fully re-established their prosperity, but the rice and the more remote intermediate tracts continued in a condition of instability. The history of the year 1905-06 much resembles that of 1904-05: juari, cotton and tur all did well, but rice was again only 75. Hailstorms early in 1906 necessitated some local suspensions and remissions, but the total outturn was as high as 93. The year 1906-07 was also a good one. The current year has witnessed a check to this comparative prosperity, but the District has cause for congratulation as compared with most of the rest of the Provinces, and suspensions will be necessary only on a very limited scale [Central Provinces District Gazetteers, Chanda distrirt, Vol. A, pp. 288-303] ".

Famine of 1957-58.

[Information for the period between 1909 and 1957 is not available.]

The district was affected by scarcity conditions in 1957-58. As a result there was acute unemployment among the agriculturists and labourers. During the year, the total rainfall received was below average and was not evenly distributed. The monsoon set in by the middle of June 1957. In the beginning of July 1957 there was rainfall throughout the district. The kharif crops were sown after the first showers, but subsequent rainfall after July 1957 was very conducive to the germination and growth of the crops. However, in September 1957, there was no appreciable rainfall. Both paddy and jowar crops all over the district, therefore, suffered severe damage. Though the area was not declared a scarcity area, near scarcity conditions prevailed in those 54 villages [The number of villages affected in each tahsil was as under:-] and affected 37,351 persons in an area of 2,34,981 acres spread over the Chandrapur, Brahmapuri, Warora and Sironcha tahsils.

There was no industrial employment of any significance in the affected part of the district. The rabi sowing which is generally done in the middle of September was also delayed by the drought. Sowings of rabi jowar, linseed, udid and mug were started as late as in the third week of September 1957. However, the lack of moisture in the soil affected the growth of the crops. The sowing of wheat and gram was also carried out late. During the year, about 50 per cent of these crops of light soil were damaged. The annewari in the affected area was below six annas. The scarcity conditions were not, however, very grave, as there was no complete failure of crops. The petty agriculturists and agricultural labourers were the victims of the scarcity.

The land revenue suspension and remission were as follows: -

Tahsil

Land Revenue Suspension

Land Revenue Remission

(1)

(2)

(3)

Chandrapur

22,803

--

Sironcha
Gadhchiroli

Warora

--

668

Chandrapur

--

93

Test scarcity works were started in the above stated tahsils where conditions akin to scarcity were prevailing. There were six such works and were started under the agency of the then Public Works Department. These included repairs to tanks at Werwat and Kelzar in Chandrapur tahsil and Permili, Dechlipeta and Tamantala in Sironcha tahsil. The construction of roads at Nagri to Madheli and Warora to Madheli in Warora tahsil was also undertaken. These works were continued till June 1958.

Tahsil

No. of villages

(1)

(2)

Chandrapur

23

Warora

6

Brahmapuri

4

Sironcha

21

 

54

The total expenditure on all these test scarcity works till 30th June 1958 was as follows: -

Item

(1)

Amount
(2)

 

Rs.

Repairs to tanks

37,727.00

Construction of roads

21,856.00

About 1,339 labourers were employed on these works. All the test works were executed on piece-work basis. Minimum wages of 108 paise for a man. 79 paise for a woman and 41 paise for children per day were paid.

Tagai loans under normal course were distributed as follows: -

Item

Amount

(1)

(2)

 

Rs.

For purchase of bullocks

2,65,627.00

For purchase of seeds

63,674.22

For purchase of oil engines

7,900.00

For construction of wells

74,925.00

Other items

2,67,182.25

In addition tagai loans under Land Improvement Act and Agricultural Loans Act were also advanced, to the tenants including affected persons as under: -

 

Rs.

Land Improvement Loans Act

2,72,378.00

Agricultural Loans Act

4,06,930.47

Famine of 1959-60.

The heavy rains on 12th and 13th September 1959 and the subsequent floods up to 18th September 1959 all over the district caused severe damage to houses, cattle, crops, agricultural implements, seeds, fodder and foodgrains. Especially the floods of Wardha. Pranhita, Penganga and Godavari affected the surrounding area to a great extent. Four towns, viz., Chandrapur, Ballar-pur. Rajura and Warora and 865 villages from Chandrapur, Sironcha, Warora and Rajura tahsils comprising area of about 48,895 acres, a population of about 92,291 were affected. One human life and 2,381 cattle were lost. The loss was estimated at Rs. 1,16,820. About 9,985 houses were damaged and 3,441 collapsed. The loss in this case was Rs. 8,77,029 and Rs. 3,82,442, respectively. About 31,052 acres of agricultural land was either washed away or damaged. The loss due to this amounted to Rs. 23,10,457. The artisans were also hit hard. They lost property valued at Rs. 14,500. The loss to shopkeepers was valued at Rs. 22,400. The damage caused to semi-Government buildings, roads, etc., and that to Government buildings, bridges, railway lines, etc., was estimated at Rs. 20,300 and Rs. 1,61,500 respectively. Thus the total estimated loss due to the excess of rains in 1959-60 came to about Rs. 69,91,582.

Of the total allotment of Rs. 6,35,000, Rs. 2,54,336 were distributed to flood sufferers, Rs. 4,366 were spent for the clearance of debris, Rs. 1,82,669 were distributed as ordinary tagai loans.

Famine of 1959-60.

Non-agricultural loans amounting to Rs. 4,750 were also sanction-ed  Ballis costing Rs. 48,770 were purchased from the Forest Department. 244 tons of G. C. I. sheets were also released. Wheat, jowar and gram seed was distributed to the agriculturists as follows: -

Wheat

756 maunds.

Jowar

995 maunds.

Gram

250 maunds.

Measures were also taken to change the village sites at Chandrapur, Ballarpur and Visapur. Cattle belonging to flood sufferers were allowed to graze free in the adjoining forest land. Timely distribution of foodgrains in the flood affected area saved people from starvation. 400 maunds of wheat valued at Rs. 4,380 and 2450 maunds of rice valued at Rs. 44,100 were distributed to flood sufferers.

Private agencies also came forward and extended help in kind to the sufferers. People from Chandrapur and Ballarpur supplied cooked food of the value of Rs. 15,452, foodgrains of the value of Rs. 11,300, and clothes of the value of Rs. 250. They also provided temporary shelters to the victims of floods. A mission at Chandrapur donated 600 tins of milk powder. Cash donations given by the private agencies amounted to Rs. 17,871.

Three relief works consisting of earth works on the roads for providing employment to the labourers and cultivators in Sironcha tahsil were taken up. However, two works were given up for lack of response from the villagers. About 225 labourers were employed on the remaining works. Male labourer was paid between Rs. 1 and 1.25 while a female labourer between 62 and 82 paise.

Famine of 1965-66.

Scarcity conditions prevailed in 1,120 villages from Chandrapur, warora, Brahmapuri, Gadhchiroli and Sironcha tahsils in 1965-66. The Government declared scarcity in these villages from 7th January 1966 to 13th September 1966. The scarcity was the result of scanty and erratic rainfall. The irrigation facilities also could not be made available as most of the tanks were dry due to scanty rainfall. Of the total area of 525,272 acres under paddy, 182,211 acres failed to produce a good crop. The annewari in these villages was noted below 6 annas. Of the 1,120 villages, 695 villages were below 4 annas and 425 villages were between 4 and 6 annas. The area and population of the affected villages was 49,339 acres and 3,40,000, respectively. Most of the poor agriculturists belonging to the backward class were affected. The degree of distress was acute in Gadhchiroli and Sironcha tahsils.

All the relief measures such as distribution of gratuitous relief in cash and also in kind were undertaken through the block agency under the Zilla Parishad, Chandrapur. Skim milk powder was distributed to the expectant and nursing mothers and to children below 14 years of age. Gratuitous relief both in cash and in kind was given to infirm and old persons, etc. The quantity of relief given to such affected persons was as under:-

1. Gratuitous relief in cash         10,000

2. Gratuitous relief in kind-

 

Tons

Kg.

Gms.

Wheat

111

514

178

Atta

22

574

554

Dried peas

10

395

--

 Skim Milk Powder

117

353

663

To provide employment to the affected agricultural labourers, the Collector of the district sanctioned 26 scarcity works. Of these, however, only 12 works were actually started through the Zilla Parishad. The following table No. 37 shows the dates on which they were started, the closing dates of the same and the expenditure incurred thereon.

TABLE No. 37

STATEMENT REGARDING THE SCARCITY WORKS STARTED DURING 1965-66 IN CHANDRAPUR DISTRICT

Particulars of scarcity/Test scarcity works sanctioned by Collector

Date on which started

Estimated cost

Actual expenditure incurred up to the date of closure of work

Date on which the work is closed

Average labour attendance per day

Remarks

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

 

 

Rs.

Rs.

 

 

Completed

Tank Works

       

Repairs and renovation to ex-Malguzari tank at Chikmara.

10-2-66

21,310

15,970.87

14-8-66

35

Repairs and renovation to ex-Malguzari tank at Armori

2-2-66

24,859

17,675.57

31-3-66

60

 

Total

46,169

33,646.44

--

95

Road Works

       

Moregaon to Gunjewahi (1 0 miles)

12-2-66

81,180

24,491.72

21-6-66

40

Saoli to Haramba (14 miles)

4-3-66

3,50,000

28,631.57

26-8-66

90

Asaralli to Somnur (6 miles)

25-2-66

1,47,370

5,235.62

11-6-66

15

Sironcha to Asaralli (20 miles)

25-2-66

10,000

4,125.53

11-6-66

10

Chimur to Bhisi (10 miles)

17-3-66

2,50,000

33,935.00

30-9-66

44

Karoli to Usarpar (6 miles)

8-7-66

1,50,000

6,764.80

21-7-66

50

Armori to Palora (2 miles)

5-5-66

50,000

10,230.02

17-7-66

30

Armori to Ramara (2 miles)

8-6-66

19,109

2,256.60

17-7-66

60

Wairagad to Karadi (3 miles)

24-5-66

75,000

3.685.79

29-6-66

20

Taki to Ramara (93 miles)

8-6-66

75,000

--

17-7-66

20

Total

 

12,07,659

1,19,356.65

 

379

Grand Total

 

12,53,828

1,53,003.09

 

474

The remissions and suspensions of land revenue were as

follows:-

 

Rs.

Full suspension granted

88,041.38

Half suspension granted

42,951.38

In addition no amount by way of tagai loans and other Gov-ernment advances was recovered from the affected agriculturists. Recovery or Government dues was also postponed in view of the scarcity conditions. Arrangements to distribute foodgrains through fair price shops were made in the scarcity affected areas.

The economy of Chandrapur district was adversely affected by drought conditions for three consecutive years from 1969 to 1972, the intensity of drought being more severe during 1972. Inadequate rains affected the paddy as well as jowar and cotton crops which resulted in a poor harvest in 1972-73. The water storage in the irrigation tanks are very poor due to lack of rains. The Zilla Parishad and Government authorities fought the drought conditions by starting relief works and improving the conditions of irrigation tanks. This, programme included repairs to old tanks, construction of new tanks and feeder channels, increase in length of canals and desiltine of tanks and canals. The improvement work of Sayamara Khairi. Rajoli, Sadhabhoi (Naleshwar), Gadmoushi. Kaladoha (Mul) tanks and their feeder channels was completed in 1972, which benefitted an area of 1.700 hectares of paddy crop. The improvement of the Asola-mendha tank and its canal of 22 km. was a great boon as it assured water-supply even in this year of scarcity. Desilting of 100 old tanks has been undertaken, while the work on 114 more tanks has been proposed in the district.

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