EDITORIAL: Not enough
The freed Haliyas lament that the government assistance for their rehabilitation is inadequate to buy a piece of land for building a modest home
It has been nine years since the Haliyas, the Dalit families who do not have their own land to build homes and farmland to till and depended on their masters to put their hand and mouth together for generations, were declared freed from the age-old tradition.
The Haliya system was also akin to the Kamaiya system (a bonded labour practice prevalent in the western Tarai till they were emancipated in 2002) in which a Dalit family is bound to work for their masters till they paid back the loans that they had received earlier.
They were declared freed from the clutches of bonded labour after the Jana Andolan II.
The government devised a plan for their rehabilitation so that they no longer need to depend on their former masters for survival. But the plan has not helped them rehabilitate in the areas where they have been living in for generations in Doti and adjoining districts in the Mid- and Far-Western hill districts.
Even the Chief District Officer in Doti, Kumar Khadka, admitted that the Haliya rehabilitation process has been delayed due to a meager amount of funds allocated by the government and poor planning for their settlement.
According to data maintained by the government, there are 19,059 Haliya families in the Mid and Far-Western hill districts who were freed from bonded labour with promises of rehabilitation.
Of the total identified, only 11,606 families have been verified and 8,791 families have been issued identity cards so far. Of the total identified, only 500 freed Haliya families were considered while distributing the rehabilitation package.
According to the government policy, the freed-Haliyas have been put into four categories.
The landless and homeless are put under category ‘A’ and each family is entitled to get Rs. 400,000; those who own their home but have no land to till have been put under category ‘B’ along with a provision of Rs. 100,000; the third category families are those who have a piece of land but have no home and they are entitled to get Rs. 300,000 and others who have both home and a piece of land come under the fourth category and will get Rs. 100,000 as relief fund.
The freed Haliyas interviewed lamented that the government assistance for their rehabilitation is
inadequate even to buy a piece of land for building a modest home.
They said that the fund provided by the government is barely enough either to buy a piece of land or to build a hut. The families interviewed demanded that each of the families categorized in different groups be provided with Rs. one million for settlement.
The worrying part is that each district has a quota only for 50 to 60 families to be rehabilitated whereas there are over 1,000 families seeking the rehabilitation package.
Considering their plights, the government should show magnanimity by increasing the funds for families who have been identified as bona-fide Haliyas.
Besides allocating the fund for rehabilitation, the government should also provide them with skill-oriented training in areas in which they are traditionally familiar and to make effective arrangements for free education for their children in public schools.
In this week alone 49 cases of dengue has been reported from Badibas and 20 such cases have been seen in Dhading.
As such, rapid response teams of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division in Teku have been deployed in the affected areas.
Since the monsoon has almost ended water accumulates in pits where the mosquitoes are allowed to breed.
As dengue is a vector borne disease transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti species the response teams are now engaged in searching for the mosquito larvae and eggs in order to deal with the spread of this deadly disease.
This also calls for preventive measures such as keeping the environment clean, using mosquito nets and also seeing to it that there is no water depositions by covering the tyres which are congenial for the mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
Considering that this disease is life threatening it is for all to seek medical attention as soon as they experience fevers and severe headaches, among other ailments.
Meanwhile, the rapid response teams are informing the locals to destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes within their vicinity.