MUMBAI: While the state suffers from a crippling water crisis, are the government’s schemes for the development of social sectors in these drought-hit areas making any difference? A study report by a group of activists and NGOs shows how the government’s schemes, right from rural employment guarantee to health facilities to food security, are all faltering in the state.
According to the report, prepared by Jaganyacha Hakakcha Andolan (JHA), the movement for Right to Live, after field visits to four drought-hit districts, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur and Solapur, there are severe government deficiencies in some key social sector provisions — from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)’s implementation, to implementing the Food Security act and taking care of women and child healthcare as priority.
In fact, in many of the indicators, the study found that the minister of rural development and women and child development Pankaja Munde’s Beed district fared very poorly.
For instance, in the villages surveyed, the JHA, a movement for Right to live, a collaboration between people’s movements and non-governmental organisations, found that the universal food security, ordered by the Supreme Court for all drought-hit areas, was plagued with holes.
“For instance, we found that 110 families in Hippalgaon village of Latur had not received any food grains for four months now. In other places, the food grain supply was inadequate and not according to norms,” said Ranajit Acharya, a JHA activist from Latur.
Similarly, even with the Centre’s ambitious NREGA, which promises 100 days of employment, the study found that the government was not responding to requests by drought-affected people for employment.
“In seven of the 8 villages we visited, we found that people hadn’t got wages for months after they carried out their work. Maharashtra was the State which pioneered the movement by bringing in the employment guarantee scheme after the drought in 1970s, but now is lagging behind immensely,” said Brian Lobo, JHA.
In fact, the JHA report also found that the state of anganwadis was pitiable, with workers not getting their wages and children not getting meals as mandated. In these four districts alone, the report found that 29 of the total 37 posts of the child development project officer (CDPO) were vacant.
“What has happened is that the discourse around the drought has only revolved around the scarcity of water and the government’s efforts to boost supply. All these sectors, which are essential for people to survive, have been ignored completely,” said Ulka Mahajan, activist with JHA.