Over 100 activists, economists and sociologists asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respond to the drought in several states and urged him to implement traditional relief measures as well as the National Food Security Act and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in letter and spirit.
In the letter, they underscored the need for implementing existing measures such as the food security act and MGNREGA in an effective and expanded manner.
“The response of central and state administrations to looming drought is sadly listless, lacking in both urgency and compassion. The scale of MGNREGA works is way below what is required and wages often remain unpaid for months. Even more gravely, the central and state governments are doing far too little to implement the National Food Security Act, three years after it came into force. “Had the Act been in place, more than 80% of rural households in the poorer states would be able to secure about half of their monthly cereal requirements almost free of cost. In a drought situation food security entitlements should be made universal,” said the letter signed by leading activists such as Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, Jayati Ghosh, Satish Deshpande, Medha Patkar, Uma Chakravarty, Paul Diwakar, Bela Bhatia, Bezwada Wilson.
Economists Prabhat Patnaik, Vijay Shankar Vyas, Amit Bhaduri, Praveen Jha and Ajit Ranade said, “The highest priority of the central government in a drought situation should be to ensure the creation of millions of additional man-days of work in all affected villages.” “Instead, the government has not even allocated enough funds this year to sustain the level of employment generated last year, Rs 233 crore man-days according to official data. At current levels of expenditure per person-day, this would cost well over Rs 50,000 crore,” they said.