One month on, willful disobedience of the Supreme Court’s historic order on drought -Swaraj Abhiyan
-Press Release from Swaraj Abhiyan
Following the historic order of the Supreme Court of India in the Swaraj Abhiyan PIL on drought, various peoples movements have taken initiatives to monitor the ground situation of drought relief. Swaraj Abhiyan in association with Ekta Parishad, Jal Biradari and National Alliance of People’s Movements organised Jal-Hal yatra from Latur to Mahoba (21st May to 31st May). Similar yatras were organised in Telangana (2nd to 4th June) and from Chambal to Bundelkhand (6th to 14th June). State level public hearings were organised in Jaipur and Bhopal by Soochna Evum Rozgar Abhiyan, Right to Food Campaign and People's Action for Employment Guarantee.
All these ground assessments have brought to light the sad truth that the historic verdict of the highest court of the land is being disobeyed in more than one respect:
* Universal access to food-grain in the drought affected areas has not happened anywhere; no state is anywhere close to implementing this critical directive for mitigation of hunger; the Union of India is not willing to accept its responsibility in this respect;
* The sabotage of MNREGA by non-release of funds in time continues despite scathing observations by the Supreme Court; delayed payments and under-performance in meeting targets continued even in times of drought;
* Despite forecast of a good monsoon, farmers in drought hit areas are not ready for next sowing, for they have not received crop loss compensation or fresh loans, despite clear directive by the Court to “religiously” implement the government’s policies in this regard.
* In more than half the states mid-day meals in schools have not been provided during summer holidays.
Our travel and interaction has brought out the horrific situation that prevails in many parts of the country, especially Marathwada and Bundelkhand. We found:
* Water famine in Marathwada, made worse by rise of water mafia
* Cattle famine in Bundelkhand, made worse by utter neglect of fodder supply by the state
* Distress sale of land, cattle and other assets across many states
* Widespread distress migration, over and above the seasonal labour movement, of rural population in drought affected areas, including landed peasantry.
We call upon the government, especially the central government, to implement the Court orders in its letter and spirit. While the country hopes and expects a good monsoon, it is vital to realize that many consequences of drought will not go away with good rains. Peoples movements and organisations have decided to join hands in carrying out Drought Relief Monitoring across all the 13 drought-hit states and present the report to the Supreme Court when this case comes up for hearing on the 1st of August.
- Swaraj Abhiyan
- Ekta Parishad
- Jal Biradari
- National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements
- Soochna Evum Rozgar Abhiyan
- Right to Food Campaign
- People's Action for Employment Guarantee
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Press Release from Swaraj Abhiyan, 16 June, 2016