05 October 2012

Subsidy on pulses revived, computerisation of ration cards approved by Cabinet as Right to Food and Work Campaign gathers steam

Press Release
5 October 2012

As the Nationwide Campaign on Right to Food and Work is underway with new states like Gujarat joining in, important decisions were announced in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet has approved computerisation in PDS to address the issue of bogus and false ration cards. Further, it has decided to once again introduce pulses under PDS, and approved a subsidy of Rs.20 per kg on imported pulses for BPL households. This seems to be a sop to pacify opposition to its FDI related "reforms".

West Bengal state yatra continued with BDO deputation at the Patharpratima block in South 24 Parganas district lasted more than 3 hours with campaigners from Gosaba Anwesha for Science, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), Shramajivee Mahila Samity (SMS), New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Sundarban Bonadihikar Sangram Committee and Udayani Social Action Forum. Workers working under MGNREGA are faced with a crisis in this block as wages amounting to Rs 7 crore are due for work done in this financial year. As per the BDO, this figure stands only at Rs.3 crore. One of the major problems has been that majority of workers have been given work under several schemes of NREGS without any proof, such as collection of 4a forms and giving in return 4b forms. According to the BDO, the discrepancy in the due wages is because of the panchayat not reporting the work done as yet. No assurances were given by the BDO as to when the payments could be made, he appeared helpless and said the district bank account for NREGS has only about a crore left in its account. It was also bought to his notice that about 52lakhs is lying with the Post office, and no steps being taken for disbursement. One of the only positive developments was that he ensured the yatris that 21,000 ration cards will be issued in the block within the next 2 months.

10 Gram Panchayats in Kalna 1, Burdwan district were covered by the vehicle rally by Udayani. Women participated and showed immense interest as they welcomed the yatris with garlands and actively took part in the public meetings.

A deputation of PBKMS, SMS and NTUI activists met with the District Magistrate's representative in Nadia district as the DM was not present. When issues of pension to old persons and widows were raised, he asked us to submit a list of names from every panchayat and block, who are not included despite being in the BPL list. Similarly on NREGS complaints of work not provided, he asked for lists with attached 4a forms.

Deputations with BDOs of Khatra and Indpur block in Bankura district were held today as part of the yatra organised by Rural Development Society, PBKMS, SMS, NTUI and Udayani Social Action Forum. Issues of delay in payment of old age pension and irregular meetings of the PDS vigilance committees were a point of discussion, with BDOs assuring that they would try and disburse the money before the pujas. On implementation of Forest Rights Act, Khatra BDO said that 500 pattas have been distributed in the block.

For more details, please contact                                 
Saradindu Biswas (Ph: 9433342488)         

03 October 2012

Positive impact starts reporting in from the yatra on Right to Food and Work in West Bengal

 Press Release
3 October 2012

As the West Bengal yatra on Right to Food and Work in West Bengal finished second day today, some positive results were reported from two blocks in Nadia district. In Tehatta II block, 450 people submitted their applications to the Food Inspector during a meeting with the BDO, where the former was also present, along with the CDPO of the ICDS program. When the yatra moved to the next block in Nakashipara, and met the BDO with the demands, where he instructed the Food Inspector, to accept applications and issue new ration cards keeping aside panchayat's recommendation and party affiliations.

Purulia district saw local people taking interest and distributing handbills and poster-ing walls on their own. Today, the yatra started from Manbazar I block, and after covering several panchayats entered Barabazar, one of the important blocks, where it raised slogans and campaigned outside the BDO's office. The yatra then moved to Berada Gram Panchayat and had two pathayatras, which included a meeting with Panchayat office members and the village pradhan. Balarampur block was covered after that where street corner meetings were held in important landmarks such as the bus stop and bazaars. Finally, it moved to Purulia 1 block, where meetings were organised in haats. In Manara gram panchayat, the yatra was stopped by people assuming that it was taken out on behalf of a political party, and objective was to garner votes before the forthcoming panchayat elections.

South 24 Parganas district, an island district affected by Cyclone Aila in 2009 and subsequent floods every year, is one of the poor areas where food security is a crucial question. The yatra in the district is co-organised by Gosaba Anwesha for Science, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), Shramajivee Mahila Samity (SMS), Sundarban Bonadhikar Sangram Committee and Udayani Social Action Forum. The yatra started from the bazaar in Kakdwip block, covering several gram panchayats, and moving to Namkhana block where a rally was taken out. It will commence from here tomorrow.

Binpur 2 in the Jhargram sub-division of Paschim Medinipur district, is a naxal affected area where the state is giving foodgains for Rs. 2 under the Public Distribution System, continues to be a hunger-zone area. A padayatra was taken out there of more than 200 people.  

More updates from Bankura district will come in as they are reported.

For more details, please contact:

Saradindu Biswas        
Ph: 9433342488          

02 October 2012

West Bengal Yatra of the Right to Food and Work Campaign flags off

Press Release
2 October 2012

The Right to Food and Work Campaign-West Bengal started today demanding food security for all as part of the nationwide campaign.

In Purulia, the yatra started a day earlier. On 1 October 2012, the rally began at Joynagar bus stand in Purulia 2 Block, where over 250 members of PBKMS and SMS took out a rally in the morning at 9am.
In Hura block, more than 600 members of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) and Shramajivee Mahila Samity (SMS) rallied from Lakshmanpur Village in Lakshmanpur Gram Panchayat till Gandhi Maidan where an oath taking ceremony was held where people resolved to keep fighting till their demands on food security are met. People from the neighbouring villages joined in here and the meeting gained in number and strength. From there, a vehicle rally campaigned in a weekly haat.

Today, a padayatra was taken out from Lalpur mor in Hura block of Purulia, where it crossed many villages and crossed to Puncha block, where 2000 agricultural workers and members of PBKMS rallied ending in a public meeting. The second day yatra in this district ended at Pairachali at Manbazar 2, from where it shall convene tomorrow again. The two days in the district has generated much interest among villagers and local media.

A vehicle rally kicked off the campaign in Keshpur block of Paschim Medinipur district. The rally with flags and banners (majority red) was stopped by the ruling political party at three places. TMC members, the ruling party in the block along with other villagers were much interested with the reasons and organisers of the campaign, mistaking us on behalf of the opposition party. Numerous street corner meetings were held, with wall postering and listing of demands. Local TMC members followed the van till they were assured of the objectives and demand of the campaign. As the van crossed Anandapur police station, the Officer-in-charge stopped the van and asked for a permission, which even after it was showed to them, asked the yatra to leave for 'security' concerns and followed us under the garb of 'protection' till we left the block. Even after all the odds, the yatra ended at 5pm, only to be continued tomorrow.

In Nadia district, a pathasabha (padayatra) was taken out in Dhubulia in Krishnagar 2 Block. Members of PBKMS and (SMS took out a rally which crossed through the main streets of the town. A lot of interest was generated by the shopkeepers and some joined in as the rally passed. Another public meeting is being held in Pukhuria village in Chapra block from where the yatra will again commence tomorrow.

For more details, please contact:

Saradindu Biswas        
Ph: 9433342488         

Please find below a list of participating organisations in every district:

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), Rural Development Society, Shramajivee Mahila Samity (SMS) and Udayani Social Action Forum
Uthnau and one more
PHE Workers Union and Udayani Social Action Forum
North Bengal Right to Food Campaign
Joint Bagan Bachao Progress Committee and People Progressive Plantation Workers Union
Griha Adhikar Manch, Haathgacchiya Basti Unnayan Committee, Jiban o Jeebika Uchhed Protirodh Committee (Prostuti), Nari Sanghati Committee (Boral), NTUI, Right Track, Tiljala Shed and Udayini Social Action Forum
Malda Sahayogita Samity
MASUM and PHE Workers union
APDR, Bidi Sramik Union-Tehotta, PBKMS, PHE Workers Union, NTUI and SMS
North 24 Parganas
APDR, NTUI, PBKMS, SMS and Shramajivee Samanvay Committee,
Paschim Medinipur
Majhi Jagran Kalyan Samiti, PBKMS, NTUI, SMS and one more
South 24 Parganas
Gosaba Anwesha for Science, NTUI, PBKMS, SMS, Sundarban Bonadhikar Sangram Committee and Udayani Social Action Forum