No compliance yet of SC order on drought-affected states, say activists

Activists say the government has failed to address the situation arising out of drought

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Archana Mishra | June 16, 2016 | New Delhi


#Yogendra Yadav   #Swaraj Abhiyan   #NFSA   #MGNREGA   #non-compliance   #SC order   #Drought  
No compliance yet of SC order on drought-affected states
Photo: Arun Kumar

Even after a month of the supreme court order on implementing National Food Security Act (NFSA), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act  (MGNREGA) and crop loss compensation in drought affected areas, the Centre and state governments have failed to comply with it, say activists.

“On May 11 and 13, the supreme court gave a historic verdict on drought. It was a big decision on social justice after 14 hearings which took more than 40 hours. But it has been a month now and the order is being disobeyed at all fronts,” said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan. He presented a ground assessment report on the compliance of the SC order along with activists like PV Rajgopal, Sunilam, Harsh Mander, Nikhil Dey and Dipa Sinha at a press conference on Thursday.  
 
The SC directed the centre and states government to provide subsidised food grain to the affected population, if they do not possess a ration card and payment of all pending wage liabilities along with compensation for the delay in wages under MGNREGA.
 
 “Universal access to food grain in the drought affected areas has not happened anywhere.  The Centre and state have failed in addressing the drought situation with compassion and urgency,” Harsh Mander, a right to food activist, said.
 
Stressing that drought for two consecutive years has not been an ordinary one, Mander said, “Drought compounded with intense agrarian crisis, depletion of groundwater and poor agriculture investment has made this severe.”  
 
According to Mander, the situation was not so poor during the colonial or post independence era when drought was treated with a sense of urgency.  “It is surprising but in the neo-liberal era, the government has been doing even less,” he said. 
 
Nikhil Dey spoke of how the centre failed to release funds for MGNREGA. He said, “Only Rs 3,047 crore is available for this financial year after meeting the pending liabilities of last year. Almost Rs 17,000 crore is not yet released and the pending liabilities have reached Rs 2,563 crore as of today.” 
 
Dey who leads People’s Action for Employment Guarantee said, “Over 80 percent of the compensation due in 2016-17 has not been paid so far. Even they have changed the database classification to conceal the reasons for the delay.” 
 
Dipa Sinha, working on children’s rights and nutrition, highlighted how the apex court order of providing mid-day meals in schools during summer vacations have been violated.  “The compliance of the order did not take place and now the schools are about to open. There was little publicity about the availability of MDM.”
 
She mentioned about a 2001 SC judgment on the mid-day meal scheme under the Right To Food case which has a provision of meals in summer holidays in drought hit districts.  “A bureaucratic procedure is followed where states make a work plan in January and February for additional allocation for mid-day meals.  Without even considering that the country has faced drought for two years, states did not ask for any fund this year,” Sinha said. Also, farmers have not received crop compensation and no fresh loans are being provided to them for the next harvest, she added.

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