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UPDATE (India): Basic assistance provided by government insufficient in maintaining the livelihoods of indigenous quarry workers in Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh

On September 24, 2005 the District Magistrate (DM) of Mirzapur, Mr. Umesh Kumar Mittal, and the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) visited the Kodwari village, under direction from the National Human Rights Commission, to meet with the victims and discuss their concerns. Soon after their visit, 95 AAY (Anthyodaya Anna Yojana) cards, given to families living below the poverty line, and 10 Annapurna cards (ration cards for senior citizens) were distributed among the villagers. Twenty-five families were also given Rs. 800 each to build houses and two families were promised Rs. 5,000 in compensation. The village was also visited by the Circle Officer and SHO (Station House Officer) of Police. Subsequently, after their visit, the Public Distribution Shops in the area were reviewed and the shops are now open regularly, finally providing rations to those who have cards.

UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

Update on Hunger Alert

01 February 2006

[Re: HA-23-2005: INDIA: Villagers exploited by employment in slave like conditions due to lack of food and terrible living conditions]
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HU-01-2006: UPDATE (India): Basic assistance provided by government insufficient in maintaining the livelihoods of indigenous quarry workers in Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh

INDIA: Hunger and malnutrition; acute poverty; delayed and inadequate government action
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received further information from the People’s Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR) regarding the current situation and conditions of quarry labourers living in the Mirzapur District. The AHRC previously reported that the labourers, who are from Chamar tribal community in Kodwari Village, were forced to work at the quarries due to abject poverty and the lack of an alternative source of livelihood. Furthermore, it was reported that a major lorry accident had resulted in four deaths and 22 injuries.

Recently, the District Magistrate of Mirzapur and other officials visited the village to gather information and assess the needs of the community. Some immediate assistance was provided to the victims, particularly to address their food concerns. However, given the dire situation in the village itself, the assistance given was too basic to provide any rehabilitation or lasting support to the quarry workers, who only wish to be self-sufficient. The AHRC urges you to write letters to relative officials pressing them to ensure that adequate and sufficient assistance is provided to the villagers and that further steps are taken to ensure that the victims can provide for their livelihoods.??

Urgent Appeals Desk -- Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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UPDATED INFORMATION:

On September 24, 2005 the District Magistrate (DM) of Mirzapur, Mr. Umesh Kumar Mittal, and the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) visited the Kodwari village, under direction from the National Human Rights Commission, to meet with the victims and discuss their concerns. Soon after their visit, 95 AAY (Anthyodaya Anna Yojana) cards, given to families living below the poverty line, and 10 Annapurna cards (ration cards for senior citizens) were distributed among the villagers. Twenty-five families were also given Rs. 800 each to build houses and two families were promised Rs. 5,000 in compensation. The village was also visited by the Circle Officer and SHO (Station House Officer) of Police. Subsequently, after their visit, the Public Distribution Shops in the area were reviewed and the shops are now open regularly, finally providing rations to those who have cards.

While some assistance has been provided, this however has been insufficient in providing any long-term benefit to the victims. Currently, the village has no irrigation system or wells and must rely on rainwater to irrigate the agricultural land. Furthermore, women and children also suffer greatly from the situation in the village. Because of the severe lack of food and employment opportunities in the community, women have an even smaller number of work options. An Integrated Children Development Services (ICDS) center also does not exist in the area, which is a direct violation of the Supreme Court civil writ No. 196/2001 (PUCL vs. Union of India). Thus, children do not benefit from Mid-Day meals or have the opportunity to attend school, and child-care services are not provided for families where the adults must work.

Finally, it was earlier demanded that Rs. 100,000 should be given to all persons who died in the stone quarry accident on July 10, 2005. Additionally, Rs. 25,000 must be given to all those injured in the accident. However to date, no compensation in this form has been provided to any of the victims or victims?families.

BRIEF HISTORY OF CASE:

The villagers, who have been working in slave-like conditions as quarry workers, are driven to work in dangerous situations due to the severe lack of food. Even with the work, discriminatory practices by their bosses ensure that the labourers and their families continue to live in terrible conditions. In the most recent past, a tragic accident cost the lives of several workers, and no compensation or medical care was offered to the victims. Please see HA-23-2005 for a detailed background on the living and work conditions of the villagers in this case.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter to the officials addressed below and urge them to take more steps to provide rehabilitation and compensation to starvation victims in Mirzapur. In particular, many long-term programmes and schemes must be implemented in order to allow the villagers to provide for their own livelihoods.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

RE: INDIA: Basic assistance provided by government insufficient in maintaining the livelihoods of indigenous quarry workers in Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh

I was recently updated as to the current status and situation of the stone quarry workers and villagers residing in Kodwari Village, Chunar. I was informed that on September 24, 2005 District Magistrate Umesh Kumar Mittal and the Sub Divisional Magistrate of Mirzapur visited the village to conduct an inquiry under the direction of the National Human Rights Commission. Subsequent to their visit, 95 AAY (Anthyodaya Anna Yojana) cards, given to families living below the poverty line, and 10 Annapurna cards (ration cards for senior citizens) were distributed among the villagers. Twenty-five families were also given Rs. 800 each to build houses and two families were promised Rs. 5,000 in compensation. I was also informed that the Public Distribution Shops in the area became regularized after a recent visit by the Circle Officer and SHO (Station House Officer) of Police, which now allows the villagers who hold ration cards access to food.

While I acknowledge the efforts made by the local administration to provide immediate relief to the victims of hunger in the village, I am still deeply concerned about the dire conditions that exist. Currently, no alternative means of employment have been provided to the villagers, in particular, to women and those who were injured in the recent stone quarry accidents. Additionally, no irrigation system exists to water the agricultural land in the village. Access to water must be provided to the victims, and as Mirzapur is one of the districts under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, a feasible option would be to employ the villagers themselves to dig wells in Kodwari. Stone quarry and alternative job opportunities must also provided to women and others in the village. Together, with the ration cards already provided, this will allow for the villagers to maintain their own livelihoods.

Additionally, children are also suffering greatly and do not have access to basic necessities such as education and child-care. Integrated Children Development Services (ICDS) centers should be provided in all rural areas under the Supreme Court ruling in the PULC vs. Union of India case (No. 196/2001), allowing for children to be educated and taken care of while their parents work. At present, no ICDS center exists and therefore, a primary school and at least two ICDS centers need be started in the community, where Mid-day meals can be provided to all children to ensure they are receiving a sufficient amount of nutritious food.

Finally, it has come to my notice that several of the concerns brought up by victims and families of the people deceased in the stone quarry accident on July 10, 2005 have not been addressed. In July, several villagers were made to work digging the quarry and loading up a lorry with stones. The driver of the lorry was drunk and consequently 22 people were injured and four were killed. A request was made that compensation of Rs. 25,000 and medical care be provided to each victim injured, and Rs. 100,000 be provided to families who had lost a loved one. This compensation must be provided to the victims, many of whom cannot work and take care of their families.

I urge you to take immediate steps in addressing these issues and to ensure that the villagers in Kodwari receive the proper assistance needed to sustain their livelihoods in the long-run. This includes the access to water, food, alternative means of employment, housing and education for the children. I also hope that those who were affected by the stone quarry accident receive compensation without further delay.

I look forward to your intervention in this matter.

Sincerely,


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PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:

1. 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: cmup@up.nic.in?

2. Mr. Umesh Kumar Mittal
District Magistrate
Mirzapur District
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: +91 54 4225 2480, 7400
Fax: +91 54 4225 2552
Email: mir@up.nic.in 

3. Sub Divisional Magistrate
Chunar, Mirzapur District
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: +91 54 4222 2413

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Justice A.P. Mishra
Chairperson
Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission
6-A Kalidass Marg
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: +91 52 2272 6742
Fax: +91 52 2272 6743
Email: uphrc@sancharnet.in?

2. Justice A. S. Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2338 2742
Fax: +91 11 2338 4863
Email: covdnhrc@nic.in, ionhrc@nic.in?

3. Chairman
National Commission for Scheduled Castes
5th Floor, Loknayak Bhawan,
Khan Market,
New Delhi-110 003
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2 463 2298 / 2462 0435
E-mail: chairman-ncscst@ncscst.nic.in?

4. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UN 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
Tel: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 917 9010
Email: sect.hchr@unog.ch?

5. Mr. Gian Pietro Bordignon
Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2615 0001
Fax: +91 11 2615 0019

6. Chief Mines Officer
Directorate of Geology and Mining
Khanij Bhawan, 27/8, Ram Mohan Rai Marg
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: + 91 52 2220 5906, 2220 5909
Fax: +91 52 2220 5910

7. Mines Officer
Mirzapur, Mirzapur District
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: + 91 54 4225 6339

Thank you.

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

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