Poverty alleviation

During the formulation of the 9th Five Year Plan in 1998-1999 through the Janakiyasutra movement, more than 125,000 people in about 25,000 families in Thiruvananthapuram Municipality were found to be below the poverty line, where forget Air Conditioners even fans are a novelty. Most of them live in the city’s 53 slums and 12 fishing villages, while the rest blend into the urban population. A good number of them were organized as neighborhood groups under the CDS. However, this organizational system was also inadequate to accommodate all BPL families.

Four times a year in various wards of the city, ward councils and ward committees formulated development plans. There were planning implementation monitoring committees at the municipal level. There were sub-committees and Executive Beneficiary Committees at ward level. Mahilanidhis, neighborhood groups and Kudumbashree programs came into existence. Greater public participation was ensured in the planning and implementation process of regional development. The public planning program formulated in the 9th Plan came into force in the 10th Five Year Plan (2002-2007) with amendments under the name Kerala Development Strategy.

Scheduled castes, women and other weaker sections enthusiastically participated in ward conventions for planning. They described the extent of the sufferings they were experiencing and the helplessness from which they could not escape and presented what they saw as solutions in the language of the petition. All this was summarized in Thiruvananthapuram Municipality Development Document 1997-1998. Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation implemented many projects aimed at alleviating poverty and ensuring social security. Innumerable projects were implemented on a priority basis to alleviate the hardships of poverty such as lack of land, lack of housing, poor housing conditions, lack of potable water, non-availability of electricity, women’s empowerment projects to raise the status of women, help to start micro-enterprises, and to increase infrastructure in slum areas.

Since there was no sectoral committee specifically for poverty alleviation, all these projects were implemented in almost every thematic area.

In 2000, 5 panchayat areas which were adjacent to the municipality were added to the municipality. As a result, the area and population of the municipality increased. The 4th and 5th Annual Plans of the 9th Plan and the plans implemented in the then 81 wards municipal council area in the two years of the 10th Plan had the same vision and direction.

Out of a list of 4072 beneficiaries selected to start self-employment ventures during the Ninth Plan period, 653 people have been given bank loans and subsidies to start self-employment ventures. Out of 110 D.W.C.U.A.C.U.A. groups formed to start self-employment enterprises on group basis, 86 units were able to start enterprises by getting bank loans and subsidies.

Training was provided to 2831 persons through 169 training programs on various subjects – to sensitize community representatives on the activities of NHGs and ADSs and other general issues. In the informal banking network started in 1998, more than 109 lakh rupees were collected during the Ninth Plan period itself and out of this, 4364 neighborhood group members were provided with loans for various purposes. It covers 720 neighborhood groups and 30 ADSs.

Skilled training was given to 1571 job entrepreneurs to impart job skills to self-employed entrepreneurs.

A Gender Resource Center has been established under the auspices of CDS. Here, people with mental disorders, family problems, alcohol and drug addicts, etc. are given counselling, awareness about women’s legal rights and legal assistance, and treatment instructions for mother and child.

KUDFC provided loan and subsidy and constructed 505 houses. 1980 people were provided free electricity connection. Steps have been taken to construct pavements at 50 places, extend pipelines at 50 places, extend power lines at 21 places and renovate 100 wells to provide clean water.

All these schemes were followed in the first two years of the Tenth Plan. 3422 people were trained in 93 training programs for skill development of self-employed entrepreneurs. 220 self-employed entrepreneurs were provided with bank loans and subsidies and started their ventures. Bank loans and subsidies were provided to 23 group work enterprises and the enterprises were started. 220 individual entrepreneurs have been provided with bank loans and subsidies. 1023 houses were constructed in NSDP and 408 houses in Vambay project. Assistance was given to 53 people for house renovation. In the sanitation sector, 2481 double toilets were constructed and provided. Figures for housing construction and renovation are also included in the housing sector.

*Barriers in timely availability of funds for central and state-led schemes.

* The inadequacy of the financial assistance currently available when compared to the extensive needs of the city.

* Bank loan assistance for entrepreneurs is not available as required

* Inability to form enough voluntary agencies to carry out the construction work required in the background area.

* Inability to organize all BPL families in the city under CDS system through NHGs.

* Inability to co-ordinate activities in this direction with CDS activities of women’s self-help groups formed with the same objective.

* Inadequacy of mechanisms to help individual/group entrepreneurs to resolve frequent crises.

* Lack of marketing facilities and inability of entrepreneurs to compete with products in the market

* Guidelines of Central and State-initiated schemes and legal frameworks in matching existing city conditions.

* Inadequacy of organizational structure to move NHGs approaching 1500 (not enough when compared to today’s urban population) under one roof.

Many problems are facing the municipal council. According to the State Planning Board’s Economic Review 2003, it is estimated that the needy families are more than 2% of the total families who are neglected and do not receive any help. It is estimated that 34% of them do not have access to food, 45% do not even have access to proper social security assistance, half do not have access to clean drinking water, and three-quarters do not use latrines.

These facts have been found in a study based on 147 panchayats. The situation in the city is likely to be worse, based on these figures, there are more than 5000 needy families in Thiruvananthapuram city with a population of 744983 and 248346 families. Taking into account the special nature of the city, the number will increase further with the inclusion of outsiders, outsiders and beggars – poverty alleviation efforts will have no meaning without rehabilitating all of them. It is now too late to list these needy families and prepare a plan for their rehabilitation. In the 3rd annual plan this should be initiated through the ASRAYA scheme.

For any project through NHGs, the approval of the ward committees is also required while identifying the beneficiaries. Not enough diligence has been shown in this regard. As the scope and activity of NHGs are limited to the member families only and the number of NHGs is limited, necessary steps should be taken to obtain the approval of the ward committee by making the list of beneficiaries available to the ward committees.

Women and Child Welfare

1. Education

89.81% of Kerala’s population is literate while India’s rate is only 52%. The all-India male literacy rate is 63.86 while in Kerala it is 93.62. Whereas in Kerala the female literacy rate is 86.17% while in India it is only 39%. In Thiruvananthapuram city, female literacy is 85.2%. Girls in Kerala are leading in the field of higher education as well. 54% of undergraduate students, 60% of degree students and 64% of postgraduate students are girls. Thiruvananthapuram is full of institutions that support women’s education.

2. Labor sector

Women’s labor force participation in Kerala is very low compared to other places in India. But the labor force participation rate of women is high in Kerala only in urban areas. The population of Thiruvananthapuram city is 744983 as per 2001 census. The total number of employed persons is 2.48 lakhs. Out of this, males are 1.87 lakh and females 0.6 lakh. The number of unemployed women is 3.18 lakh. (Part-time workers are not included in this figure) Those who are employed for at least half a day in a year are considered as main employed. Partially employed are those who do not get work for even half a day in a year.

Women make up a small percentage of wage earners. Even among the wage earners, women do not constitute a majority. But 50% of those engaged in subsistence farming are women. 80% of those involved in household poultry farming, cattle rearing and fishing are women. Women make up 96% of the household chores like cooking, laundry, house cleaning and many other tasks like firewood collection, kitchen garden harvesting of fruits for food and agricultural produce processing.