01 October 2015

Statewide Campaign On Right To Food And Work, Sept. 26 - Oct 9

Join State Wide Awareness Campaign Programme  from September 26 to October 9

The Demands:
Ø  A Food Security Act Guaranteeing Food For All
Ø  Work For Every Hand All Through The Year
Ø  A Living Wage For Everyone
Ø  Support to Food Production,
Ø  Acquire Food at Fair Support Prices, Increase Decentralized Storage Capacity
Ø  Immediate Implementation of Maternity Benefit of Rs.6000 given in the NFSA
Ø  Increase Allocations For All Food Security Programmes like ICDS, MDMS

The Right to Food and Work Campaign- West Bengal invites all of you to participate in its state-wide awareness programme. We are demanding immediate implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA). We have been especially amazed at the strange manner in which beneficiaries are being selected in West Bengal for the rations under NFSA. A month long programme for registration of names in August of those who had been left out of NFSA beneficiary lists turned out to be farcical.

There was limited public display of lists, though this was mandatory. Lists were in English and arranged in such a manner that people found it very difficult to find their names. Green forms and white forms for inclusion of names were unavailable in many places. As a crowning glory, the inclusion of new names will now be done after forms are verified by civic police volunteers in September and October. (The civic police volunteers are an ill paid, highly exploited, untrained group of Government workers who are more used to traffic control and law and order duties than activities involving identification of the hungry!!).

The demand that we want to raise through our campaign — stop this farce of beneficiary selection. Start immediate implementation of the NFSA. Ensure universal coverage for food.  When we look around at the beautification works in the State, we believe, surely our Government has money for a basic essential like food 

It is also not sufficient to have an Act that ensures distribution of food but does not ensure its production, its procurement or its storage. This year, 12 districts of West Bengal have experienced floods. Acres of paddy seedlings were just washed away. This flood will inevitably lead to a shortage of production of paddy and other crops. We are therefore demanding that the Government must take special measures to ensure that agriculture is protected and food production is encouraged. It must also ensure that food is procured in a decentralized manner and at fair prices.

We also want to raise the issue of gradual pull back in the MGNREGA. We are seeing the worst performance in the history of this scheme. Work is not being given , payments are delayed and wages are very low. We therefore demand work for all and a living wage for everyone.

The NFSA also has a provision for Rs.6000 as maternity benefit. This has not started anywhere, and there is neither any money allocated for it. Nor are there rules in place for implementation. To make things worse, programmes for women and children like ICDS and MDMS are seeing a huge cutback in funds. The Centre has drastically reduced its support for these programmes, but there is no surety that the State Government (though it has extra funds in its kitty) will step in to fill this gap.

Please join our awareness campaigns at various district towns and villages. We intend to cover 13 districts through our mass awareness on Government Social Security Schemes and the fundamental rights to food and work over the next few weeks.

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