Latehar has been named after the village of the same name on Ranchi - Daltonganj Road. It is 100 k.m. away by road from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Latehar is famous for its rich natural beauty, forest, forest products and mineral deposits. Latehar is located on the north–west corner of Jharkhand in the Palamu Commissionary. It is surrounded by Ranchi, Lohardaga, Gumla, Palamu and Chatra district apart from Chhattisgarh state and situated between 840.31' East Longitude and 230 44.5' North Latitude.
Latehar was an integral part of Palamu till 2001, hence it is desirable to take into consideration the historical account of Palamu as a whole. The district of Palamu was constituted on 01 January 1928. Its headquarter Daltonganj was named after Colonel Dalton, the Commissioner of Chotanagpur during British rule. The area was inhabited by the autochthones adivasis like Chero, Oraon and Kharwar. Oraon ruled a part of Palamu from Rohtasgarh. The Chero reigned in Palamu for more than 200 years. Among the important Chero rulers, mention may be made of Raja Medini Rai (1662-1674). He extended his sway over South Gaya and large parts of Hazaribagh and Sarguja. Medini Rai's memory has survived more for his justice than for his conquests. He built one of the Palamau forts (the lower fort). His son Pratap Rai built a fort near his father's fort, which still exist in Betla.
The influence of Mughals extended to Palamu during the reign of Emperor Akbar, when Palamu was invaded by Raja Man Singh in 1574. The troops left by him were however driven out in 1605, when Akbar died. In 1629 Shahjehan appointed Ahmad Khan as Subedar of Patna and Palamu was given to him as Jageer. He imposed tribute on Chero rulers, but they refused to pay the tribute and hence Palamu faced three successive invasions of Muslims.
The quarrel among the claimants of rights of kingship on Palamu gave way to the British to invade Palamu for the first time in 1772 and the fort of Palamu was captured. In 1832 the Cheros and Kharwars raised their voice against administration. The insurgents were however defeated in an engagements with the British forces near Latehar.
During 1857 movement Palamu was the most severely affected zone of Chotanagpur plateau. The brothers Nilambar and Pitambar, the chief of Bhogta clan of Kharwar tribe were holding ancestral Jagirs. Taking advantage of the movements against British rule they made up their minds to declare themselves to be independents and were joined by many Chero Jagirdars. They jointly attacked on British supporters. 'O' Malley (1907) has narrated that Nilambar and Pitambar were eventually captured, tried and hanged. Palamu played important role in freedom movement of the country. A momentous event was the visit of Mahatma Gandhi along with Shri Rajendra Prasad to Daltonganj on 11th January 1927. The August disturbances in 1942 had their echoes in Palamau as well. Railway lines were dismantled, telegraph lines were cut a large number of people both at the district headquarters and the interior were arrested.
Thus it is apparent that Latehar as a part of Palamau has undergone the impacts of Chero rule, British rule, Muslim infusion, Jamindari and Jagirdari Pratha various freedom movements etc. time to time.
It's a predominantly tribal district with almost 40% of the population belonging to the schedule tribes and more than 66 % of total population comprises SCs and STs. The total area of the district is 3,671 Sq. Km and one of the block headquarters is more than 200 K.M. away from the district headquarters.
There are seven Blocks in the district within which distantly located villages are scattered amidst the dense forest, hilly terrains and agricultural fields. The number of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is predominantly high here and Latehar comes under Tribal Sub Plan Area.
The economy of the people revolves round the forest, agriculture and minerals.
(a) Agriculture: - A large number of people are engaged in agricultural activities. Cultivation of paddy, maize, cereals, wheat, oil seeds etc. are common. The people are either working as agricultural labourers or cultivators. Kharif and Rabbi are the main agricultural seasons. Karma festival is celebrated for good production of crops.
(b) Forest: - Out of total geographical area of 4211-2508 sq. k.m., forest area covers nearly 2010.2245 sq. k.m. The tribal economy revolves around using forest products, by products and minor products. Kendu leaves, Bamboo and its manufactured products, Mahua, fruits, leaves (used is the making of dona, pattal), lac etc. play an important role in the economic activity of the people. People also hunt animals for food and 'Jani shikar' festival is related to this hunting habit.
(c) Mines and Minerals: - The geological reports say that the district is very rich in various mineral deposits. There is abundance of deposit of Coal, Bauxite, Laterite, Dolomite, and Graphite etc. Granite, Quartz, Fireclay, Felspar etc. The excavation and exploration of these minerals have provided job opportunities to the inhabitants of this hinterland to some extent because these minerals have not been fully explored at large scale and there are no mineral based industries in the district.
(d) Animal Husbandry: -The quality of livestock is very poor. Cow, goats etc. are of local variety and the average milk yield is very less. There is a vast scope in the field of animal husbandry in Latehar.
(e) Trade and commerce: - In place of old Mahajans and landlords, various banks are operating their branches is the district but it is a matter of fact that most of the villages are so scattered that the system of primary trade in the hands of vyaparis and village sahukars still continues. Paddy thrashing, dona pattal making, bamboo basket making, selling of mahua flowers. Lacs, Kendu leaves and other minor forest produces are main components of trading activities. In the absence of major industries and employment opportunities, the options of economic development are limited. Animal husbandry, piggery and fisheries etc. have good potential, but this sector has still remained unexplored.
There are 19 High Schools, 1224 Middle and Primary Schools, one Model High School at Netarhat (Mahuadanr Block), One Govt. Polytechnic and one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, 05 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas and 10 Residential schools for S.C/S.T. students in Latehar district. Latehar became the first district in Jharkhand where cooked mid-day meal scheme was initiated in 200 selected primary schools comprising 20,782 enrolled students in December 2003. Now all 1224 primary schools, including all EGS centres and all minority schools, comprising 1, 37,000 students in January 2006 have been covered under this scheme and going on successfully. With this the one fourth of total population of district has been brought under the umbrella of mid day meal scheme. Each of these Schools has been provided with Kitchen Sheds for cooking and storage purpose and the same has been constructed by utilizing development funds. Mother Committee "Sarswati Vahini", comprising all the mothers of students of the school and where one of the mothers of the children becomes convener of the committee and supervises the successful implementation of the scheme at the school.
It is also to be noted that Latehar district is a part of Palamu Division, which is very infamous for so-called starvation deaths and acute malnutrition standard and it had been the poignant issue for naxal extremists to make people hostile towards government and administration.