The Guardian May 10, 2000


India:
Drought and near famine situation

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) adopted 
the following resolution on April 25 in New Delhi on the drought afflicting 
a large part of India:

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) expresses its grave concern at the 
severe drought conditions prevailing in large parts of the country.

While the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat are the worst affected, drought 
conditions are also being reported in parts of Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya 
Pradesh, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.

In Rajasthan, the life of over 2.5 crores* of people and 3.5 crores of 
cattle are threatened by drought.

People in 26 out of the 32 districts are existing in miserable conditions -
- drinking water is not available and underground water sources have dried 
up.

Reports of starvation deaths are coming in from various parts of the state. 
People in over 26,000 villages are badly affected.

The situation in Gujarat is equally miserable. The Kutch and Saurashtra 
regions are severely hit. Over 8,000 villages and 43 cities are without any 
source of water supply. Most of the reservoirs and dams in the state have 
dried up.

The state government, instead of organising relief, has resorted to police 
actions for terrorising people who have come out on the streets in protest 
against relief not being provided.

In all these states, the worst affected are mainly the rural poor, 
agricultural workers and daily wage labourers.

The lackadaisical attitude adopted by the Central Government is, indeed, 
unfortunate. Reports suggest that this is probably the worst condition of 
drought leading to a near famine situation in independent India.

Instead of treating this as a national calamity and organising relief on a 
warfooting, the Central Government has adopted a callous attitude. Due to 
inadequate relief, large-scale migration from affected areas is taking 
place.

The proposals suggested so far to meet the situation are woefully 
inadequate. The proposal to provide food to the people at the rates for 
those below the poverty line is not sufficient to meet the severity of 
misery.

Immediate provision of cooked food by drawing foodgrains from the available 
stock must be provided free to people in the worst affected areas. Further, 
a "food for work" program must immediately be started to provide relief to 
the people.

Drinking water must be supplied through special arrangements.

Fodder for the cattle must immediately be provided in order to ensure that 
the agony of the rural people does not prolong too long.

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) calls upon the Vajpayee Government to 
immediately provide the required relief and funds to meet the severe misery 
that these drought conditions have imposed on crores of Indian people.

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) appeals to all mass organisations, 
irrespective of their affiliation, to rush relief to the affected areas.

* * *
*A crore is 10 million India News Network (INN)

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