Punjab and Haryana high court (HC) has directed Punjab and Haryana governments to consider introducing Rs 10 a meal scheme of Chandigarh administration in order to generate employment avenues for women in distress.
The direction came from the HC bench of justice Ritu Bahari in a suo motu petition initiated during the hearing for a domestic violence case, which had resulted in a Mansa district woman committing suicide after ten years of marriage leaving two sons behind.
The scheme, known as Annapurna Akshayapatra Yojana, was launched on January 3 by the UT administration under which lunch and dinner is provided to the poor at different locations of the city for just Rs 10, and the meal consists of six chapatis and a vegetable dish.
A large number of women have been employed for various tasks under the scheme, mainly for the kitchen work.
Justice Ritu Bahari observed that a number of women commit suicide by pouring kerosene oil, consuming poisonous substances or hanging themselves, “The officers present in the court are being directed to consider the policy being followed by the UT administration with regard to getting clean and cheap food which will be prepared by women, so that women in Mansa (Punjab) and Mewat (Haryana) may have a positive environment so that they can be encouraged to live their lives happily.” The HC further said that senior citizens can also be made part of the scheme.
The HC bench said it had come across a number of cases in which women committed suicide even after 10 or 12 years of their married life. “This is an extreme step, which an individual would not want to take if the circumstances at home are positive,” it said asking the governments of Punjab and Haryana to determine whether any steps can be taken to give a positive environment to a woman before she thinks of ending her life in the most painful manner in her prime youth.
The high court also sought as to what steps could be taken to engage the women in these two districts on a part-time basis in manufacturing/preparing some food items, pieces of art/handicrafts, that do not require any specific qualifications, to enable them to earn some income. It may result in giving them happiness, raise their self-esteem and deter them from taking such steps. The HC bench said that social media and NGOs could be roped in to promote and sell their products.
The HC also asked Food Corporation of India (FCI) to give the average of the quantity of foodgrains which become unfit for human consumption every year in Punjab and Haryana due to the lack of storage facilities, etc.
The director, rural development and panchayats of both the states were also asked to state whether women are being engaged in central scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MANREGA) and other related suggestions.