Government says enough grain stock, farmers go hungry
Budhi Rikisyan sat in her house making leaf plates for the last rites of her granddaughter, Mantawa. Unable to suppress hunger pangs, the 12-year-old girl plucked surbari leaves from the field and ate them in early August. After five days she was suffering from acute dysentery. She convulsed a few times and then died. Surbari, a weed, is not poisonous but was infested with worms.
"There was not a grain in the house. My son begged for rice but it was not enough for the five children," said Budhi, tears welling up in her eyes.
Mantawa's father Nepali Rikisyan owns small land in Khachan village of Jharkhand's Daltonganj district. But drought destroyed his maize crop. He had put a fence of babul to prevent cattle from straying. But surbari did.
The girl's death has created panic among the villagers.When they heard 25 kg of rice and 10 kg of wheat was being distributed for free, they rushed to the block office in Chainpur. But the relief was only for those with ration cards. "We do not have any such card," said Prabhu Korwa of the village.
The administration denies any hunger death in the district. People say at least six have died for lack of food.
In Andhra Pradesh 25 farmers committed suicide due to drought by August 21, said chief minister Y S R Reddy.
In Delhi at the state agriculture ministers' meeting on August 19, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said the country had a good stock of foodgrain. He reminded the ministers that the government had procured 25.3 million tonnes of wheat and 32.6 million tonnes of rice in the last season. "Full allocations (of ration) for 65.2 million below-poverty-line and Antyodyaya families are being made to all states at 35 kg per family per month," he said.
|Photograph by Prashant Ravi|
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.