Maharashtra- From Drought to dhandha #Vaw

Published:  Sunday, Mar 31, 2013, 0:27 IST
By Yogesh Pawar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Purnima Ahire speaks haltingly in English with a pronounced Marathi accent, an attempt that draws a round of laughter from the women huddled in a lane near Ashok Talkies outside Thane station.

“Kai English madam dhandha karayla aali ka kai (An English madam has come for sex work)?” says one of them, setting off the others again.

The 21-year-old from Umerga, Osmanabad, clams up. Her mentor Renuka Varahade, 34, puts an arm around her and tells her to ignore them. “Many who come for dhandha can’t even write or speak decent Marathi. Purnima has studied till Class 11, so they are envious,” she says.

Purinima’s sister’s wedding two years ago put her father in debt. Unable to withstand pressure from the local money lender after his crop failed, he drank a bottle of pesticide in January. Besides her mother, Purnima now has to support her sister and brother, so she decided to find work.

“Renukatai knew my mother. She told her I’d find work as a domestic help in Aurangabad. Once I found out the nature of the work, I called home to tell mother. She cried, but said I must cope to help the family,” says a blank-faced Purnima, whose family thinks she works as a maid. “If I keep crying, will that feed my family? Here Tai protects me and I get to send money home,” says Purnima.

Brothel-keeper Pushpa Malepu admits that new arrivals from drought-hit parts of Maharashtra have increased: “Earlier they came from poor families, but now even educated girls from families who have lost everything to crop failure in the last 2-3 years are taking to the sex trade.”

The profile of Mumbai’s sex workers is changing. At one time, 75% of sex workers in the city were from Nepal. Traffickers then shifted focus to Bangladesh where regular floods and poverty ensured new recruits. There came a point when one in every three sex workers in Mumbai was Bangladeshi.

Activists in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik admit that more educated Marathi-speaking girls are being pushed into the sex trade. This is like the situation following the drought of 1972, when 70% girls in the trade were from Maharashtra (Marathwada), Karnataka (Raichur-Gulbarga), and Andhra Pradesh (Rayalseema) — areas worst hit by drought.

“Now, there are more Marathi-speaking girls being pushed into the trade,” says Pravin Patkar, founder-chairman of Prerana, an organisation working with sex workers since 1986.

Patkar says the first signs of distress were seen last during Diwali, when sex workers started migrating to Mumbai from the drought-hit belts of Vidarbha and Marathwada: “With the overall drop in purchasing power, work became scarce, forcing them here. This shows the levels of distress. Unless interventions are put in place, the number of new recruits from these regions could rise rapidly.”

Indu Bhalerao, 36, is one such sex worker. She left Latur for Mumbai last September because of the lack of clients. “Here I can at least have food. In Latur, I didn’t have enough to provide for my family in my village, and was going hungry myself.”

Bharti Lad is a 23-year-old from Jalna district of Maharashtra. “Our family owned a sugarcane field which was divided after a family dispute. My father lost his share as he ran up huge debts paying off lawyers two years ago. We started working as labourers. Now, since there’s no water, there’s no work. We even had to sell the cow to the butchers,” she says in chaste Marathi. Bharti lives in a flat in Malad. “Regular customers mean I have enough to send at least Rs5,000 back home every month.”

The women waiting outside closed shop-fronts near Ashok Talkies are hungry and settle for a quick meal of bhurji-pao. “After 11pm, the police come… To avoid lafda (trouble), many of us head home,” says Purnima, who cannot resist checking herself in a broken mirror on the bhurji pao cart.

Renukatai hails an auto to take them to their hovel at the base of Parsik Hill at Kalwa (East), where two more girls stay. It’s past 11.30pm and the autowallah tries to get fresh. “Same place?” he leers in the rear-view mirror, eliciting a quick retort from the feisty Renuka, who spits out gutka and asks him: “Where else? Do you want to take us home to meet your mother?”


PRESS RELEASE- The helpless expose “vibrant” Gujarat to DMIC Yatra (hindi also)

English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta

The DMIC Virodhi Sangharsh Yatra reached Gujarat on its 5th day after various programmes in Mumbai, Konkan, Khandesh and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. Gujarat, a veritable ‘investment destination’ favoured by the global corporate who’s who, is a ‘development hotspot’ sold around the world by its Chief Minister’s image spinmasters. As image makers and corporate lobbyists brag about Gujarat’s red carpet for business, SEZs (Special Economic Zones), SIRs (Special Investment Regions), PCPIR (Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region) are the flavour of an endless season as far as corporate honchos are concerned. On the other hand every social indicator, including malnutrition, sex ratio, education and health indicators, tell an entirely different story. Gujarat’s record on each of these is shameful. That is what the Yatra exposed during the course of its journey.

The Yatra touched Umargaon (Dist. Valsad), Gundiya village (Dharampur Tehsil, Dist. Valsad), Hazira-Surat, Sarbhan village (Dist. Bharuch) and Indravarna village (Dist. Narmada), bringing together Adivasis, fisher-people, farmers and unorganised workers. Each of these groups has had its right to life and livelihood threatened by the steam roller driven by the Manmohan Singh-Narendra Modi-Ahluwalia-Chidambaram-Navin Patnaik-Jayalalita axis. While the fisher-people of Umargaon haven’t yet recovered from Lt. Col. Pratap Save’s death by police brutality, another mega port plan is foisted on them by an Israeli corporation along with its Indian minion – Adivasis of Dharampur face the daylight loot of water resources in the garb of the Par-Tapi-Narmade river link project. Similarly lands of farmers of villages around Surat and Bharuch are threatened by various projects connected with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial corridor.

Bringing together these various groups, the DMIC Virodhi Sangharsh Yatra exposed the Goebbelsian propaganda regarding Gujarat’s strides in industrial development and its accompanying myths.

The real facts are:

  • The problem of unemployment remains as acute as ever despite the “vibrant” investment that is trumpeted around the world – at best, Gujarat only has job-less or job-loss growth.
  • That people are willingly parting with their land, water and forest resources is a black lie. Forceful acquisition and unjust projects are being resisted everywhere.
  • Infrastructure projects – whether they be railway lines, expressways, ports or nuclear power plants – are no longer “holy cows”, people have seen through the hollowness of Governmental claims and will fight them tooth and nail.
  • The working people – farmers, fisher-people, adivasis – are paying a very heavy price and are thrown into the hell fire of urban slums.
  • The myth of Gujarat as a model of development is beginning to unravel.

This is the message received by NAPM’s DMIC Virodhi Sangharsh Yatra from the affected people of Gujarat. The Yatra will move towards Kheda and Ahmedabad on its last leg on 14th March 2013. After a public meeting in Ahmedabad on 14th March 2013, the Yatra will set out for Indore.

Medha Patkar, Suniti S. R, Lingraj Azad, Kamla Yadav, Anwari Bi, Afreen Bi, Santosh Thakur, Dhyaneshwar Rodge, Pratap Gaikwad, Yuvraj, Vaibhav Joshi, Madhuresh.

Contact: Madhuresh- 9818905316

प्रेस विज्ञप्तिः भरुच से 13 मार्च 2013ः-प्रेस विज्ञप्ति संलग्न है  For english press note after Hindi, same is also attached

मुंबई-दिल्ली संघर्ष यात्रा के द्वारा 
निस्सहायों ने खोली ‘चमकीले गुजरात‘ की असलियत

अपने पांचवे दिन डीएमआईसी के खिलाफ चल रही मुंबई-दिल्ली संघर्ष यात्रा आज गुजरात पहुंची। मुंबई से 8 मार्च को आंरभ होकर यात्रा महाराष्ट्र के कोंकण, खानदेश और मराठवाड़ा क्षेत्रो में गई। आज गुजरात निवेश के लिये ‘विकास का एक बहुत ही आकर्षक क्षेत्र‘ के रुप में मुख्यमंत्री द्वारा प्रचारित किया गया है। काॅरपोरेट क्षेत्र के लिये गुजरात में आज लालकालीन बिछाया जा रहा है। सेज, विशेष निवेश क्षेत्र, पैट्रौलियम-कैमिकल-पैट्रौकैमिकल निवेश क्षेत्र बनाये जा रहे है। और इस चमक-दमक में जो महत्वपूर्ण सामाजिक विषय है जैसे कुपोषण, लिंगानुपात, शिक्षा, स्वास्थय आदि को छुपाया जा रहा है। असलियत यह है कि इन सब विषयों पर गुजरात की स्थिति शर्मनाक है। संघर्ष यात्रा ने इस सत्य को सामने लाया है।

आज संर्घष यात्रा उमरगांव व गुनडिया गांव, धर्मपुरा तहसील, जिला वलसाड; हजारिया-सूरत, सरभान गांव जिला भरुच; इन्द्रावरना गांव, जिला नर्मदा आदि क्षेत्रो के आदिवासी, मछुआरों, किसानों, असंगठित कामगारांे को जोड़ती हुई आगे बढ़ी। ये सब समूह इस समय मनमोहन-नरेंन्द्रमोदी-अहलुवालिया-चिदंबरम्-नवीन पटनायक-जयललिता के गठजोड़ से त्रस्त है। उमरगांव में आज भी लोग लै0 प्रताप सावे जी की पुलिस बर्बता से हुई हत्या से उबर नही पाये है। वहीं अब एक इजरायली कंपनी एक भारतीय कंपनी मिलकर बहुत बड़ा नया बंदरगाह बना रही है। पार-तापी-नर्मदा नदी जोड़ परियोजना के कारण धर्मपुर के आदिवासियों की जलसंपदा दिन के उजाले में लुट रही है। ऐसे में डीएमआईसी के कारण आने वाली विभिन्न परियोजनाओं के कारण सूरत और भरुच के गांवो के आदिवासियों की भूमि छीनने का खतरा आ गया है। इन विभिन्न समूहो को साथ लाकर डीएमआईसी के विरोध में चल रही मुंबई-दिल्ली संर्घष यात्रा ने गुजरात प्रगति में औद्योगिक विकास के बारे में फैलाये जा रहे झूठ को उजागर किया।

असली मुद्दे हैंः-

गुजरात में चमकीले निवेश के बावजूद बेराजगारी की समस्या पहले की तरह ही बरकारार है। वास्तव में गुजरात मात्र रोजगार हीन वृद्धि के रास्ते पर है।
यह पूरी तरह काला झूठ है कि लोग इच्छापूर्वक अपनी जमीन-जंगल-पानी जैसी संपदा को छोड़ रहे है। जबरी अधिग्रहण और अन्यायी परियोजनाओं का हर जगह विरोध हो रहा है।
ढांचागत परियोजनाओं चाहे वो रेल्वे लाइने हो, दु्रतगतिमार्ग हो, बंदरगाह हो, अणुउर्जा के प्लांट हो सब जगह विरोध है। लोगो ने सरकारी दावों की पोल देख ली है। और वो अब सघ्ंार्ष के रास्ते पर है।
कामगार लोग-आदिवासी, मछुआरों, किसानों, असंगठित कामगार आदि को इस तथाकथित विकास की बड़ी किमत चुकानी पड़ रही हैै और उन्हे शहरी स्लम के नरक में फेका जा रहा है।
‘गुजरात विकास का माडॅल है‘ यह झूठ अब उधड़ना शुरु हो गया है।

डीएमआईसी के खिलाफ चल रही मुंबई-दिल्ली संघर्ष यात्रा को यही संदेश गुजरात के परियोजना प्रभावितों से मिला है। अब 14 मार्च को यात्रा खेडा और अहमदाबाद की ओर गुजरात में अपने अंतिम पड़ाव पर जायेगी। जिसके बाद मुंबई-दिल्ली संघर्ष यात्रा मध्यप्रदेश में इंदौर में प्रवेश करेगी

मेधा पाटकर, आंनद मझगांवकर, कृष्णकांत, लिंगराज आजाद, कमला यादव, अनवरी बी, अफरीन बी, संतोष ठाकुर, ध्यानेश्वर रोडगे, प्रताप गायकवाड, युवराज, वैभव जोशी, मधुरेश

अधिक जानकारी के लिये देखे अभियान संपर्कः-मधुरेश-9818905316


Maharashtra faces worst drought in 40 years #wakeup

By, TNN | Mar 9, 2013,

Maharashtra faces worst drought in 40 years
A high-ranking bureaucrat said situation in five districts—Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanbad—is so bad that the existing drinking water will last only till the end of this month.
MUMBAI: Summer may still be a couple of months away but in 3,905 villages in 12 districts of Marathwada and western Maharashtra, faced with one of the worst droughts since 1972, people have started migrating to Mumbai and neighbouring Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

A high-ranking bureaucrat said situation in five districts—Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanbad—is so bad that the existing drinking water will last only till the end of this month. “For the state political leadership and bureaucracy, it will be a real testing time. After March, we will have to transport water to these areas either from neighbouring districts or even by trains from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,” he said.

But the official said that unlike 1972, when the state had to face shortage of foodgrains and unemployment too, this time around it is only water that is in scarcity.

“We have adequate foodgrains stock. In 1972, 30 lakh villagers had reported for work under the employment guarantee scheme. Now, against the availability of 20 lakh jobs, only 2 lakh villagers have sought work. We are providing work to all,” he said.

But he admitted that the available water in dams is grim. In the badly-affected Marathwada region, on Thursday, only 9% water was left in the dams compared with 30 per cent last year. In western Maharashtra, the stock is 32 per cent against 40 per cent last year. Significantly, situation in Vidarbha, north Maharashtra and Konkan appears to be better.

On the financial assistance from the Centre, the bureaucrat said, under the National Disaster Response Fund, against the demand of Rs 1,800 crore, the state has so far received Rs 778 crore and now a fresh proposal for financial assistance of Rs 2,200 crore has been submitted. “A central team was here last week. We have argued our case. We expect the empowered group of ministers will come to our rescue,” he said.

The bureaucrat pointed out that the state was facing such a situation owing to extreme exploitation of ground water. “Look at the history of the state. Once in a decade, we are facing drought, but we have not learnt lessons. We are overdrawing underground water. We have concentration of sugar factories in Solapur and Osmanabad, as a result, there was highest consumption of water in these districts,” he said.


Maharashtra -Ready to risk anything for water #mustread

Swatee Kher : Osmanabad, Wed Feb 20 2013, 11:57 hrs

Sitting beside a well in Pimpri village, a metal pot at his feet, 70-year-old Vaman Bidbaug hopes he will meet a passerby willing to climb down the well’s 110 steps and fetch him a potful of water. Bidbaug, a farmer, owns about four acres, but hasn’t sown for two seasons.

Nearly 1,500 villagers of Pimpri, 18 km from Osmanabad city, climb down the steep steps along the walls every morning and evening to fill two pots. With two consecutively poor monsoons, it is the only well in the village still left with any water. Villagers often trip on the steps and injure themselves, but that is a small price to pay.

“We don’t expect good rainfall here, but through my life I have never seen rivers and wells going dry as they are now. We had water in the other wells even when it did not rain in 2002, and earlier,” says Bidbaug.

The drought across the state has hit 7,064 villages, with 11 of 35 districts having received less than 75 per cent of normal rainfall.

Bidbaug’s two sons gave up on farming years ago and migrated to cities, a trend in the perenially parched Osmanabad, Beed and Jalna regions. In Gandhora of Osmanabad district, Dasu Parshuram Ade, 23, is preparing to move to Pune or Satara, having sold his two bullocks at Rs 30,000 each. He had bought each at Rs 1 lakh in 2009, after a good sugarcane crop.

“I could not have borne to see them die, so I sold them. Now I’m free to go,” he says. “I hope to earn enough there so that my family can buy water from tankers here.”

Water is disappearing from the rivers, wells and reservoirs of Maharashtra‘s heartland, 13 districts across Marathwada, parts of Western Maharashtra and Khandesh. Jayakwadi, the largest dam in Maharashtra, has no live storage. Put together, reservoirs in Maharashtra are just 40 per cent full now with levels expected to keep falling.

The state has drawn extreme plans for the extreme crisis, including transporting water through rail wagons or shifting entire villages in Jalna, the district worst hit with rainfall less than 25 per cent of normal. The crisis there extends beyond the rural interiors and up to Jalna city. The city has 45 water supply zones, and one, two or three of these (depending on size) are supplied municipal council water on any day. “This effectively means that people get water in their taps once every 20 days, for not more than an hour. People hoard up as much water as they can and, once that runs out, turn to private tankers,” says Rajesh More, engineer in the Jalna Municipal Council’s water supply department. He too depends on private tankers at home.

Tankers provided by the government visit Walki and Gunavadi villages in Ahmadnagar, the state’s largest district, once every four days and pour water into the village wells. Valmik Nagavade, sarpanch of Gunavdi, says the allotment is based on the 2001 census. “We get 20 litres per person based on the 2001 census but our families have grown in those 12 years,” he says. “We bathe on alternate days with just two litres.”


Rain check

7,064 of 43,722 villages declared drought-hit

Less than 25% rainfall: 5 talukas out of 355, including those in Jalna district

25-50%: 50 talukas

50-75%: 136 talukas, including those in Dhule, Jalgaon, Ahmadnagar, Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Aurangabad, Beed, Osmanabad, Nanded districts

5-year low: Storage levels in reservoirs


#India- Between thirst and darkness in Maharashtra

Rivers are diverted for generating electricity, while the government plans water trains for its people. Baba Umar reports on an impossible situation in the state
Baba Umar

January 31, 2013, Issue 6 Volume 10

Parched earth Eight districts in the Marathwada region of the state are expected to run completely dry by March, Photo: Getty Images

THIS SUMMER, people in southern Maharashtra can enjoy either electricity or water, not both. Until recently, the state had prioritised use of water for industrial purposes over agriculture. But now the government finds itself at odds to explain the diversion of water to hydel projects when water activists claim that the diverted water can be used to meet the requirements of eight drought-hit districts, which are expected to run completely dry by March.

Activists say the state government diverts massive quantities of water from the drought-hit regions of southern Maharashtra to hydel projects in the water surplus western regions of the state, eventually ending up in the Arabian Sea. But stopping the diversion may also mean shortage of electricity in an energy-starved state.

“If the government is serious about quenching the thirst of millions of people, then it has to stop diverting water from east flowing rivers to the west, which is a water surplus area and receives over 3,000 mm rainfall annually,” explains water resources expert Himanshu Thakkar a water rights activist.

Maharashtra diverts 1,413 MCM of water annually to three hydel projects from the Krishna river basin, while the Koyna dam in Satara district diverts 1,911.4 MCM of water from the Krishna basin to five hydel projects. Currently, these projects have 2,835 MCM of water in live storage. And this water is sent to Konkan areas where it ends up in Arabian sea.

“The water available in live storage capacity of these dams today is sufficient to provide 100 litres per capita per day for about 7 crore people for the entire year, provided it’s not diverted,” Thakkar says.

According to him this water, besides the additional flow into these dams through the rest of the year, can be useful for the drought-prone areas if no more water from any of these dams are allowed to drain into the Konkan rivers until monsoon arrives.

The three hydel projects in the Krishna- basin collectively produce 297 MW of electricity, while the five hydel projects based around the Koyna dam collectively produce around 1,956 MW of power. The eight projects add up to 8.5 percent of the state’s total installed power capacity.

“A decision should have been taken as soon as it became apparent that the monsoon is a failure and the state is in dire need of all available water,” says Thakkar. “We are already at least five months late in taking a decision on this. When people are facing severe water scarcity, it is high time the diversions were stopped.”

Currently, water is being supplied across the region by tankers. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has already spent Rs 414 crore to combat the situation, of which Rs 248 crore was released for erecting cattle shelters for nearly 70,000 cattle head in the drought-hit villages and hamlets. According to reports, the government has also finalised plans to send water-filled train carriages to the droughthit region.

Earlier this month, a high-level committee that studies which states affected by natural calamities need the Central government’s help approved assistance of Rs 778.09 crore to Maharashtra. But people living in the districts of Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Hingoli, which are the worst-hit in the region, are yet to see the crisis subsiding.

“The state government must work on long-term solutions. Sending water by tankers is a only short-term effort,” says Shrikant Katre, a local journalist. In Jalna, people are taking their cattle to government shelters “because they can’t afford to provide the animals with water and fodder”, he adds.

A media report suggested that stopping water diversion was discussed during a meeting at the water resources ministry, but the option was rejected.

“Stopping diversion would also mean hampering energy production in the already distressed state,” a senior official in the water resources ministry told TEHELKA on the condition of anonymity. “The government, I think, would continue to remain in limbo. We can’t see power cuts in the state, neither can we see people dying of water. It’s a double-edged sword.”

In the past five years, the state’s peak electricity demand deficit has risen from 17 percent in 2005-06, to 22 percent in 2011-12.

But water expert Thakkar says: “In times of crisis, such decisions need to be considered. Maharashtra is already facing the possibility of conflicts and clashes, with the people and cattle in the Krishna basin facing dire water scarcity. When there is talk of running water-tanker trains, shouldn’t this option too be explored?”

WATER RESOURCES Minister Sunil Tatkare couldn’t be reached for his comments. His public relations officer, however, referred TEHELKA to Dr Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam, minister for rehabilitation and relief works saying, “His ministry is managing the present drought condition.” But Kadam’s staff denied access saying, “He is busy in a meeting and can’t comment right now.” An SMS sent to Kadam elicited no response.

Suniti Su Ra of the National Alliance of People’s Movements says the water from these dams have been flowing into the sea for more than 60 years and in all these years the government could have developed a mechanism to stop this water from going waste.

“The state needs to overhaul its water policy. Water for industries has all along been prioritised over water for agriculture and drinking purposes. Water meant for farmers and drinking purposes is guzzled by industries across the state,” she says.

While the government is struggling to help people survive the drought, Thakkar says the only option left is to stop the diversion of water from ending up in the sea.

But is the government listening?


Bombay HC – Caste claims can’t be rejected based on parent’s domicile #mustshare


Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN Oct 27, 2012, 01.35AM IST

NAGPUR: In an important verdict, the Bombay high court’s bench in Aurangabad has ruled that caste claims can’t be rejected on the basis that the parents originally belong to other states.

“The caste claims of the petitioners shall not be rejected only on the ground that their parents originally belong to a region which forms part of state of Karnataka,” a division bench comprising RM Borde and SS Shinde said before granting relief to a medical student and a nurse.

The caste claims of petitioners – Preeti and Narsabai Kamble – were declined by Caste Scrutiny Committee mainly on the ground that their parents are original residents of Bider district in Karnataka. The committee stated that “the petitioners are not entitled to claim benefits in the state of migration”.

“Since the aforesaid region, prior to reorganization of states was a part of the state of Hyderabad, part of the locality of the said district presently forms part of the state of Maharashtra,” the court added.

Preeti had got admission to BAMS course while Narsabai is a nurse. Both belong to the Scheduled Caste (SC) category. Their caste ‘Mahar’ has been recognized in both Maharashtra and Karnataka. They hail from Lakhangaon and Wanjarkheda villages in Bhalki town of Bider even though later on their parents had migrated to Maharashtra and settled here.

These villages are among the 865 bordering villages which are a bone of contention between the two states. A part of Bider district, after reorganization of states in 1956, came under Karnataka. Maharashtra had claimed that these 865 villages, currently included in Karnataka, is comprised predominantly of Marathi speaking population and should be included in its jurisdiction.

The judges observed that petitioners hail from a region which forms part of erstwhile Hyderabad state that comprised the Marathwada region. This was later on included in Maharashtra after reorganization.

“The locality, to which the petitioners originally belong, is predominantly Marathi speaking one and forms part of the region bordering Karnataka. Maharashtra has put forth claim on these 865 villages and extended benefits to the residents regarding education and employment,” the judges said.

Citing Maharashtra government’s GR of July 10, 2008, the judges stated that it permitted residents of these 865 bordering villages to apply for the posts coming within the purview of Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC), thus, extending opportunity of employment to the eligible candidates.

The court further stated that the respondent committee had erred in invalidating the caste claims of the petitioners only on the ground that original residence of their parents comes under Karnataka.

The committee’s orders of rejecting caste claims were quashed and set aside and the matters were remitted back to it for reconsideration, by the high court. It was further told to decide caste claims of petitioners considering evidence placed before it and after extending opportunity of hearing them for putting forth their contentions afresh, in accordance with provisions of law.

DNA investigations: Marathwada region beats Vidarbha in farmer deaths

Mar 3, 2012, By Sandeep Pai & Sudhir Suryavanshi | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

In 2011, the highest number of farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra was not in Vidarbha, but unexpectedly, in Marathwada.

This region and Khandesh, where farmers suffered crop failure and massive debt, have emerged as the new epicentres for suicides in the state.

The numbers: Marathwada had 435 farmers’ suicides, Vidarbha 276 and Khandesh 133. Overall, 860 farmers killed themselves in 2011, the highest figure in the last four years, according to Maharashtra’s law and order department. (In 2008, there were 771 farmers’ suicides, in 2009 535 and just 363 in 2010). Within Marathwada, Beed district (represented by a BJP stalwart) had the highest number of farmer suicide deaths.

The reason for this desperation was the failure of the BT cotton crop due to lack of irrigation, scanty rainfall, and massive debt. (These will be detailed in subsequent stories in this series.)“These are the reasons for the suicides but the government remains ignorant,” says Dr RP Kurulkar, retired economics professor and chairman of the Marathwada Statuary Development Board (MSDB) in Aurangabad.

Marathwada comprises Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Hingoli. Khandesh comprises Jalgaon, Dhule, and Nandurbar. DNA visited several districts in both Marathwada and Khandesh and heard several poignant stories.

Read more here


Maharashtra Govt issues important GR related to mis-use of Ration card

The Govt of Mah. has issued a GR on 16th Jan 2012 stating ration cards can no longer be used during this election as identity card nor ration card will be used as resident proof any longer(in ration card this has already being mentioned).Ration card to be used only to get ration from ration shop(FPS).

Justice Wadhwa which has already recommended in its report to Mah.State on functions of Public distribution system(PDS) that ‘ration card’ should not be used for any other purpose except for drawing ration commodities. It should be de-linked from all other schemes connected with BPL identification done for this purpose. It should not be used be used as proof of residence or as an identity proof for any other purpose. This should be strictly implemented.

The Wadhwa Committee was informed about the large number of Bogus cards. In Jalna some drive for weeding out bogus card was done. In Aurangabad 70% of BPL cards were stated to be bogus and in Parbhani Activists informed that they found1638 bogus cards. Bogus/ ghost card is a big menace in the PDS which needs to be tackled effectively to ensure food security for the needy and to stop large scale diversion in PDS. The Committee during the visit to the State observed that number of bogus / ghost cards in the State are in abundance. The Committee is of the view that an Amnesty Scheme may be adopted for giving sufficient time to the public for surrendering the unauthorized ration cards on their own clarifying that any disclosure / surrender during the Amnesty Scheme period will not entail any punishment / penalty. However, if any bogus / unauthorized ration card is found in the possession of anybody after the Amnesty period, strict action as per Essential Commodities Act will be taken not only against the unauthorized ration card holders but also against the concerned officers of the Department found involved. Steps should also be taken to scrutinize ration cards issued to all the government officials and ensure that none possess Saffron APL. Strict penalty must be imposed on such officials who do not surrender their Saffron APL.

The Jus.Wadhwa Committee has found that one of the reasons affecting the viability of FPS is the unequal distribution of the ration cards. The exercise of rationalization of ration cards attached to each FPS should be undertaken at the earliest to bring about uniformity in the distribution of ration cards to respective Fair price shops (FPSs).

Distribution of foodgrain to the beneficiaries was found to be in a dismal condition, particularly in the Marathwada region. Most beneficiaries did not possess rations cards. At one village about 150 ration cards were found at the FPS. There were several villages where none of the beneficiaries possessed rations cards. In the Vidarbh region, though the situation was better in terms of distribution to beneficiaries, but there were glaring discrepancies in the manner in which foodgrain was being allocated and lifted from the godowns.

In many districts the ration cards had been issued more than 10 years ago and are in extremely poor and unusable conditions. This gives the FPS dealer an excuse to avoid making entries in the card. At many places the Committee found that the ration cards of the beneficiaries had been deposited at the Tehsil office for renewal but had not been issued to the beneficiaries for months. The beneficiaries are left without cards for months together and cannot claim their PDS entitlement. The drive to issue fresh ration cards should be accelerated. Issuance of ration cards should be strictly within the prescribed period. In case of delay the applicant be informed delay along with the reason for the delay.

The Ration Card GR


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