Activists launch Jal Hal campaign in parched Bundelkhand

The Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh is reeling under a severe crisis following drought and unemployment.

Tikamgarh: The Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh is reeling under a severe crisis following drought and unemployment.

Despite a Supreme Court directive to provide the people of drought-hit regions five kg of sudsidised food grain per person and employment opportunities, no such measures are visible on the ground here.

Taking serious note of the crisis, four NGOs have got together to learn first-hand about the gravity of the situation and to make people aware of the apex court's directions.

The campaign being run by the NGOs Swaraj Abhiyan, Ekta Parishad, National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM) and Jal Biradari (water conservationists) is called 'Jal Hal Yatra'.

After a tour of Maharashtra's drought-hit Marathawada region for five days, the group visited Aalampura, Bela and Gaurali villages in Tikamgarh district to examine the ground reality.

The 'Jal Hal' activists interacted with the distraught people of the villages who revealed that they have not been receiving the apex court-directed five kg of food grain per person and even the schools were not providing free mid-day meals to their children.

Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav informed the villagers about the Supreme Court directive on subsidised food grain. He said that besides the free mid-day meal in schools, the state government should also provide eggs or milk at least thrice a week and employment opportunities to adults through the MGNREGA scheme.

It came as a shock to the activists when they found that children were not given any mid-day meals during the summer holidays and that villagers had not received any food grain. The villagers told the activists that there was no arrangement for drinking water for them or fodder for their animals.

The activists learnt that people had begun to migrate to other regions to earn their livelihood and for basic necessities.

Water conservationist Rajendra Singh advised people to work unitedly to fight for their rights and use their democratic right of vote to "teach a lesson" to those who ignore their plight.

Jal Jan Jodo activist Sanjay Singh appealed to people to take adequate measures to conserve rain water during the monsoon and not rely on the government.

Questioning the intention of the government, former legislator and popular farmer leader Sunilam said that while the government claims it is helping people in drought-hit areas, the ground reality is totally different as is evident from the visit to the villages.

Villagers also told the activists that their electricity has been cut off and they are receiving bank notices for repayment of loans. Some were also being threatened by the banks.

Yadav told the villagers that he would present the actual facts to the apex court during a hearing on August 1.

The activists are to take their campaign also to the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and conclude it in Mahoba.