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INDIA: Failure of Public Distribution System in Barabanki District, Uttar Pradesh

The 200 villagers from Nindura congregated in response to a promise made by local block officials to resolve the problems of the PDS shop and its functionality by April 19, 2006. The group additionally called on the local authorities not only to provide ration cards to those who are not receiving any assistance, but to also allot new Ration Shops in the Dadera and Odoria villages (gram panchayat). Furthermore, the villagers also complained that the local village council leaders (gram pradhan) and Secretary were demanding bribes for the distribution of Anntoyoda, Annapurna, and Below Poverty Line ration cards in those villages, as well as in Munimpur. To date, no ration cards of any kind have been provided to the victims, who are all suffering from the lack of food, despite their eligibility.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

9 May 2006

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HA-04-2006: INDIA: Failure of Public Distribution System in Barabanki District, Uttar Pradesh

COUNTRY: Hunger and starvation; government neglect; threats against human rights defenders
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the People¡¦s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) and Aim, Lucknow regarding the acute situation of hunger and failure of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Nindura Block, Barabanki District, Uttar Pradesh. On May 5, 2006, a group of nearly 200 villagers gathered at the district headquarters, under the banner of the Rozi Roti Sammittee, a community based organization which enables the poor to come forward and raise their concerns and issues on a larger scale. The next day, it was reported that human rights defender, Ms. Neerja Rawat, was threatened by local officials due to her work with the Rozi Roti Sammittee during the last ten months.

The 200 villagers from Nindura congregated in response to a promise made by local block officials to resolve the problems of the PDS shop and its functionality by April 19, 2006. The group additionally called on the local authorities not only to provide ration cards to those who are not receiving any assistance, but to also allot new Ration Shops in the Dadera and Odoria villages (gram panchayat). Furthermore, the villagers also complained that the local village council leaders (gram pradhan) and Secretary were demanding bribes for the distribution of Anntoyoda, Annapurna, and Below Poverty Line ration cards in those villages, as well as in Munimpur. To date, no ration cards of any kind have been provided to the victims, who are all suffering from the lack of food, despite their eligibility.

Local officials in the district are also responsible for implementing other welfare schemes that should already be in effect in the district. Barabanki is one of the two hundred districts identified in India for the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, which assures 100 days of manual work to villagers living in the area. The Mid Day Meal Scheme is to provide one meal to those children enrolled at government or government-assisted primary schools and child-care centers. Thus far however, the Mid Day Meal Scheme has not been implemented in the Barabanki District either.

It was also reported that on May 6, 2006 Ms. Neerja Rawat, an activist working with the Rozi Roti Sammittee, was repeatedly threatened by the local administration. Ms. Rawat, who also belongs to the Dalit community, had previously been questioned and warned, however the most recent event was most aggressive. The victim was on her way to meet with Mr. Rajat Kumar, Block Development Officer of Nidura (after submitting a Charter of demand to Mr. CK Pandey, Chief Development Officer, Barabanki) when she was verbally intimidated by Papu Singh, a local village council leader in Kamipur Village, Nindura. Singh not only scolded her, but also made lude remarks and threatened her life if she continued to report violations on the PDS shops of Odoria and Dadera. 


SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter to the concerned authorities below urging them to immediately investigate the situation and provide the necessary assistance programmes to the villagers in Nindura Block. The villagers under this block must be provided with a well functioning ration shop in Dadera and Odoria that adheres to all guidelines under the PDS. Furthermore, Anntodaya, Annapurna and Below Poverty Line ration cards must be given to those eligible families who are in need of food assistance. Additionally, other assistance programmes such as the Mid Day Meal Scheme and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act must be implemented. Finally, investigations and appropriate action should be undertaken into the local village governments (gram Pachayat) and alleged bribery in Dadera, Odoria and Munimpur as well as into the threats made by Papu Singh, village leader in Kamipur.

Suggested Letter:

Dear ____________

RE: INDIA: Failure of Public Distribution System in Barabanki District, Uttar Pradesh

Location: Odoria, Dadera and Munimpur in Nindura Block, Barabanki District, Uttar Pradesh
Persons affected:
1. 200 villagers in Nindura suffering from hunger
2. Ms. Neerja Rawat, social activist threatened by local village leaders
Alleged Perpetrators:
1. Local village leaders (Gram Pradhans) who are bribing villagers for the distribution of ration cards
2. Papu Singh, local village council leader in Kamipur

I am writing to you to voice my concerns over the failure of food assistance schemes in the Nindura Block in Uttar Pradesh. It has recently come to my attention that despite promises made by local village leaders in Odoria, Dadera and Munimpur to ensure that the local Public Distribution System (PDS) shops in the areas are well functioning and providing assistance by April 19, 2006, the PDS is still failing.

On May 5, 2006, nearly 200 villagers suffering from the lack of food gathered at the district headquarters of Barabanki to pressure the local government to allot new PDS shops in the area. The victims further called for the distribution of Anntoyoda, Annapurna and Below Poverty Line ration cards for those eligible for food assistance. The group also made claims that several local village council leaders (Gram Pradhan) and secretaries were bribing the villagers for the provision of ration cards.

It has also come to my attention that on May 6, 2006, a human rights defender working with the villagers in Nindura was threatened by a local village leader. Ms. Neerja Rawat, who has been working on behalf of the victims for over ten months, was verbally intimidated by Papu Singh, village council leader (Gram Pradhan) in Kamipur Jamulia. Ms. Rawat was on her way to meet with Mr. Rajat Kumar, Block Development Officer, when she was approached by Singh, who scolded and abused her. Singh also threatened Ms. Rawat¡¦s life and warned her to stop reporting violations of the PDS shops in Dadera and Odoria.

I am extremely disappointed to hear of the failings of welfare schemes in India, and the local government¡¦s active role in denying the right to food and other forms of assistance. I strongly urge you to investigate the PDS in Barabanki, and ensure that new shops are established that provide adequate food assistance, in quality and quantity, to the villagers. I also urge you to ensure that proper distribution of ration cards occurs to all eligible families, and to immediately implement other welfare schemes approved for the district, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Finally, I am extremely disturbed to learn of threats and bribes made by local government officials. Therefore, I suggest an immediate investigation is undertaken into the intimidation and bribery claims against Papu Singh and the other village leaders from Dadera, Odoria and Munimpur so that they may be prosecuted.


I trust you will take immediate action in this matter.
 
Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:

Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: + 91 52 2223 0002/2223 9234
Email: csup@up.nic.in

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Mr. Rama Shankar Sahu
District Magistrate
Barabanki District
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: +91 52 4822 2730
Fax: +91 52 2222 2629

2. Mr. CK Pandey
Chief Development Officer
Barabanki District
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: +91 52 4822 3103

3. Dr. Ranjana Bajpayee
Chairperson
State Women Commission
7th Floor, Indira Bhawan
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

4. Justice A. S. Anand
National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhaven, Sansad Marg,
New Delhi - 110 001
INDIA
Tel: + 91 11 23346244
Fax: + 91 11 23366537
E-mail: ionhrc@hub.nic.in or chairnhrc@nic.in

5. Justice A P Mishra
Chairperson
Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission
6-A Kalidass Marg
Lucknow Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

6. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UNCHR, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
c/o Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Room 4-066 
OHCHR,
Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52,
Geneva
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9010
Email: sect.hchr@unog.ch

7. Mr. Anthony Banbury
Regional Director
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor
Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Lumpini, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Tel: +66-2-6554115
Fax: +66-2-6554413
Email: Anthony.banbury@wfp.org or Bkk.unescap@un.org

8. Mr. Gian Pietro Bordignon
Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Tel: +91-11-26150000
Fax: +91-11-26150019
Email: wfp.newdelhi@wfp.org

9. Dr. N.C. Saxena and Mr. S.R. Sankaran
Commissioners
Supreme Court of India
SAMYA, R-38A, 2nd floor
South Extension - part 2
New Delhi - 49
INDIA
Fax: +91-11-5164 2147
Email: commissioners@vsnl.net

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme -- Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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