Human Rights Forum wants Drought Relief Act

Human Rights Forum wants Drought Relief Act

The members of the factfinding team from the Human Rights Forum demanded that the government introduce a comprehensive Drought Relief Act to implement...

Ongole: The members of the fact-finding team from the Human Rights Forum demanded that the government introduce a comprehensive Drought Relief Act to implement effective measures towards drought relief.

The three-member committee from HRF visited Konakanamitla, Markapuram, Rolagampadu, Kalujuvvalapadu and Sivapuram in Prakasam district on Saturday and shared their experiences and findings with the local press at Ongole on Sunday.

The Human Rights Forum Coordination Committee member for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, VS Krishna, Andhra Pradesh general secretary K Sudha and Krishna district convener G Rohith said that they interacted with a cross-section of people in the Prakasam district who made it clear that despite the government’s pronouncements, there was very little relief on the ground and extreme distress was apparent.

They said that in the villages they came across dried up tanks, large tracts of uncultivated lands and crops withering away and they observed that there was distress migration of even small and medium farmers.

The committee members said that the drought compensation amounts have not reached a majority of farmers and the compensation for last year’s crop losses was being paid at some places now. They opined that the administration was not taking any proactive steps to use the MGNREGA for the drought relief.

They said that merely declaring areas as drought hit and offering advice to farmers to cultivate short duration crops was not going to help them, who had lost everything in Kharif.

The committee demanded that under section 3 (4) of MGNREGA, the government should immediately enhance the person days of work to 200 in the district. They informed that the Union Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir promised to enhance the person days to 200 in Titli hit areas.

They wanted the same should be implemented in all drought affected areas along with addressing the complaints of inordinate delays in the payment of wages.

The HRF members said that drought had become an annual phenomenon in large parts of the country and was pushing the people to a precarious position denying them the right to life.

As the drought mitigation and relief were not statutory rights in the country, they demanded introduction of Drought Relief Act. In the event of drought, people must, as a matter of right, be provided with the three basic requirements to preserve life, including work for the people, fodder for the cattle and drinking water for both.

They requested the political parties and democratic movements to demand such a statutory drought relief law to ensure minimal relief as a matter of right to the farmers so that they need not beg or fight for survival.

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