Santhal Pargana

Santhal Pargana division constitutes one of the five administrative units known as the divisions of Jharkhand state in eastern India.In 1855, during British India, Santhal Parganas was created as a district, and was a part of the Bengal Presidency.

Santhal Pargana division covers a geographical area of 14,206 and occupies a transitional position between humid Bengal plains to the east and the sub- humid Jharkhand plains to the south-east. The division stretches from 230 40’ – 250 18’ N latitude and 860 28’ – 870 57’ E longitude. The plateau is bestowed with the Ganga in the north east and the Barakar in the south-east. Politically, the division is surrounded by a number of districts of Bihar and West Bengal. Culturally, it is situated at the cross-road of the traditional Bengali culture and the predominant Angika and as such the division has developed an intermingled cultural landscape. The region provides abode to two primitive tribes Santhal and Paharias . The division consists of five administrative districts viz; Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Pakur and Sahibganj and three forest divisions viz;Dumka , Deoghar and Sahibganj.

With a total population of 5.56 million the division of Santhal Pargana shares 20.8% population of Jharkhand. The division is the natural abode of 29.88% of tribal population that shares 23.6% of the total tribal population of the state. There are altogether eighteen tribes in Santhal Pargana but nine of them are important ones. These are Santhal , Oraon, Mal Paharia, Maholi, Sauria Paharia, Munda, Kora, Lohra and Kharwar. Out of these Santhal is the predominant tribes of the region. Racially these tribes belong to the Negroid group that found shelter in the Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana highlands in due course of time. This Negroid –Dravidian group has its own dogmas, rituals, beliefs, customs and culture that have given rise to a separate tribal iconography 

An exclusive area within Dumka district has been demarcated as reserved place for these tribal which is commonly known as Damin-i-Koh measuring nearly 300 miles in circumference and separated and marked by large masonry pillars. All the land situated within these pillars is kept under the official control and declared as reserved forest. The government acts as the head proprietor and the hill people are informed that their rights in it would be respected so long they conducted themselves peacefully.  The hill within the Damin- i- Koh are inhabited by Mal or Sauria Paharias and the valleys are usually occupied by the Santhal and other tribes. The area geographically lies at the foot of Rajmahal hills but almost the whole range is between the Ganges in the north and Brahmani River in the south.

The geographical region purposely meant for the Paharias include portion of Sahibganj, Pakur, Godda and Dumka. In general Paharias are timid, ill fed communities, psychologically preferring to remain in the upper slopes of the hills . They are more dependent on forests for their food, fodder, house appliances and other like items. Santhals, unlike Paharias, are distributed throughout the region and are better well off socially as well as culturally. Represented by a number of clans they are much intractable to urban mass and in recent decades they have emerged as a political force of the region. Cultivation of agricultural crops, rearing of husbandries and poultries, working as regular and casual labourers and serving in government institutions are the major sources of livelihood of this tribe. Besides tribal population, the division also gives shelter to many non tribal communities in the vicinity of forests like Muslims, Bania, Dhankar, Harijan etc. These communities are practically the liaison people between the tribal and urban mass and are considered the indispensable component of the system.

The land use pattern in Santhal Pargana differs considerably from the overall state pattern. Here the land use is chiefly dominated by forest and waste land, though net sown area and fallow lands also occupy considerable fraction. Forests mostly cover the Damin range and its adjoining areas. Wasteland consisting of hills and ravines as well as bad lands are found to the west of Damin areas. The general pattern of land use represents a shift from forest canopy to land under plough. Bhadai, Aghani, Rabi and Germa are the characteristic cropping seasons of the region. Bhadai crops (June-August) includes paddy (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), Marua (Elusine corocana), whereas Aghani crops include paddy, jowar (Sorghum vulgare), bajra (Pennisetum typhoides),  kulthi (Dolichos lablab) and ghanhgara (Phaseolus incognita). Rabi crops are wheat, gram, barley and pulses which are grown in very limited areas. Germa crop basically include paddy and some vegetables. A significant aspect of the agricultural practices of the area is that many tribal practice Kuraon (a form of Shifting Cultivation) on the hill tops of forest belt where they grow barbati (Phaseolus catjans)  in massive scale 

 The forest blanket of Santhal Pargana division is stretched in 1942.8 that shares about 10.4 per cent of the total forest cover of the state. The forest of this area is “Tropical Dry Deciduous type’ and is categorized into three classes i.e; reserve forest (34.65%), protected forest ( 48.67%) and deserted or unclassified forest (16.77%) . Characteristically Sal ( Shorea robusta) is the predominant timber of the region. Other major tree components of the forest are Anoqeisus latifolia (Dhaura), Buchanania lanzen  (Piar), Pterocarpus marsupium ( Murga), Semicarpus anacardium (Velva), Terminalia alafa ( Assan ), T. arjuna (Arjun) and species of Bauhania, Diospyros, Zizyphus.  Besides dense forest cover, the region has huge deposit of quarry mines, bentonite, keoline and coal.

Like many other forests of the country, the forests of Santhal Pargana are also subjected to mass scale denudation. Legal and illegal tree felling, indiscriminate mining operations, prescribed or deliberate forest fire, unplanned construction of dams and bridges etc. are the common scenario of the region  which have affected the forest ecosystem  adversely to a great extent. These have resulted in serious ecological imbalance in the area. Soil erosion, silting of river bed, eutrophication, loss of plant biodiversity, entry of exotic weeds, alteration of soil profile etc. have been the ill consequences noticed in the region.

Amongst 16 administrative blocks of Santhal Pargana divison activities of CATHEE has been started in  Jarmundi block in Shara P.S. The demographic characteristics of the region has been identified as below 


 No. House Hold                  27752


Total Pop                            151555                 M            76940                   F               74615


Total SC                              10999                   M            5645                     F               5354


 Total ST                               39287                  M            19583                   F              19704


Total Lit                                52688                   M            37233                 F                15455


Total Worker                          70764                   M            29046                 F               40460


Total Marg. Worker                  30304                   M            10423                F                19881


Total Non Worker                   12889                     M            4036                 F                8853


The  region is awfully backward with about 34% of SC/ ST population having no basic amenities of livelihood. Poverty, illiteracy , lack of health care facilities and unemployment are the destiny of the  populace.