Thousands of tribals starving in Mizoram, claims NGO

Thursday, December 23, 2010

AIZAWL - Over 4,000 Chakma tribal people in Mizoram have been starving for the past few weeks, a non-governmental organisation said Thursday.

“Over 800 Chakma tribal families comprising over 4,000 men, women and children in four villages in Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) areas of southern Mizoram have been starving for several weeks,” New Delhi based Mizoram Chakma Development Forum (MCDF) said in a letter to the Mizoram government.

MCDF president Hemanta Larma said: “No food grain under the Public Distribution System (PDS) have been supplied to the AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) and BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders since October.”

“People belonging to APL (Above Poverty Line) have got their quota of rice and other materials till Nov 26, making clear that the richer have been given more importance than the poor and poorest families,” the petition said.

It was submitted to Mizoram Chief Secretary Pu Van Hela Pachuau and deputy commissioner of Lawngtlai district.

The letter added that the failure of the state government to ensure food security and non-supply of food grain under PDS were direct violations of the Supreme Court orders on the Right to Food case and Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

Mizoram government officials have also admitted about the severe food crisis in Lawngtlai and other districts.

Mizoram Chief Secretary also held a meeting with Union Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar earlier this month in New Delhi demanding urgent supply of food grain.

The central government has been supplying food grain, cooking gas, fertilisers and other essentials to northeastern states.

Inadequate railway service to the mountainous region is the main bottleneck in maintaining uninterrupted supply of food grain and other essentials.

A senior Mizoram government official told reporters that six out of the state’s eight districts are facing a severe shortage of food grain and other essentials.

“The Mizoram chief secretary, during his meeting with the union cabinet secretary, has suggested six proposals, including building of adequate numbers of godowns, to overcome the recurring problem,” he said.

Occasional road blockades by local organisations and disruption of railway services due to heavy rains during monsoon have also contributed to such shortages in Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and southern and western Assam.

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