Villagers of Rajaram ka Purwa in Banda district have written a letter to SDM, Attarra saying that they are starving and will die if they do get anything to eat. The letter signed by six members of the family, say they pick up leftover grains in the field and eat once in a day.
In village Masuri kherwa, inhibited by tribal nomads, only 40 out of 70-odd families have ration cards. In the absence of this card they are not able to avail government facilities. They wrote a letter to District Magistrate that if they die of hunger administration will be responsible for their death.
The cries of starvation and lack of food is emanating from all around rugged Bundelkhand area of the state. The situation has aggravated following reverse migration when people came back to their villages from big cities as majority of them do not have ration cards to avail government facilities forcing them to depend on the supply provided to them by charitable institutions.
“These people migrated because of compulsion. There is not enough food or work in Bundelkhand therefore they left their homes and went to big cities to earn their living. They worked as labourers at construction sites or factories. After lockdown when all the activities have come to a standstill and there was no work and money these people returned home, some on foot, with a hope that they will get food and shelter in their villages but are facing hunger here too,” Raja Bhaiya of Vidya Dham Samiti (VDS), an NGO, working in Banda told this reporter.
The problem, said Raj Bhaiya, is that majority of these people do not have ration cards. No card means they are not entitled to get subsidized food grains and other supplies given through government outlers. “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that those who do not have ration card should not be denied food grains and should be given a provisional card. But officers at the village level are asking for bribe,” Raja Bhaiya said.
The NGO claims that a woman in Bhawaniganj was asked to pay Rs 300 as bribe to the official. “I lodged a complaint to the supply officer who said that he will ensure that lady gets back her money and provide her a provincial card. But he did not mention punishing the officer,” Raja Bhaiya said.
In Rajaram ka purwa, out of 24 families only 8 have ration cards. “Complaints have been lodged with senior official and at even CM’s portal. But nothing has happened so far,” he said.
The experts say that reverse migration may lead to economic problems because of sudden accumulation of several people in rural areas. The situation is aggravated because first these people do not have work and two there are more mouth than food available in the village, said Nomita P Kumar of Giri Institute of Development Studies in Lucknow.
Bundelkhand has always been infamous for mass migration to bigger cities because of lack of employment opportunities there. The region’s geographical limitations have a part to play in this. Farmers in this region were unable to properly cultivate land in this region because of prolonged drought and erratic weather conditions.
Raja Bhaiiya says that situation in Bundelkhand cannot be compared with other parts of the state. “In other areas migrant workers might have got work during harvesting – may be at subsidized rate in their gram sabha – but in Bundelkhand this tome the crop is not that good. Where the crop is better farmers have used machines for harvesting thus the migrant labourers were left jobless, he said.
“This is the right time for the government to intervene otherwise people will be forced to commit suicide,” he said.