In Karnataka, writers, activists write to C.M. seeking steps to prevent starvation among poor

Published : March 29, 2020 18:12 IST

Volunteers distributing food to homeless people in Bengaluru on March 29. Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

More than 30 prominent writers and activists in Karnataka, including Ramachandra Guha and Devanur Mahadeva, have in a letter to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa asked him to take “appropriate and expedited measures to address the onset of food, income, and medical insecurity among the people”. While appreciating the measures taken so far in alleviating the economic stress resulting from the 21-day lockdown, the letter points out that the lockdown may cause starvation among a large section of the population of the State if suitable measures are not taken immediately.

The letter also points out that the package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana announced on March 26 leaves out large sections of the population who may not be covered under various schemes. On the method of provisioning, the letter advises the Chief Minister to put in place a mechanism that will be a “ground up and coordinated approach” so that no one is left out. This would mean that every ward and village panchayat should “be given the resources and power to ensure food and shelter for all”.

Among the concrete steps suggested in an accompanying note to the letter, the suggestions include the universal allocation of food packets irrespective of whether the household has a ration card or not. For food security, the note recommends that cooked meals should be provided free to anyone who wants it. The note also recommends that an “emergency relief grant of Rs.14,000 per household be made in April and May to households that have been identified under the National Food Security Act”.

Considering that the PMGKY package does not contain any statement on pending dues to workers or whether work would continue under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the note recommends that all pending dues of these workers until April should be cleared apart from providing them full wages during the lockdown period. The writers recommend that the State government pass an executive order that no worker should be terminated or his/her wages reduced during the lockdown. The State government should pass an executive order prohibiting the eviction of tenants for non-payment of rent, the note demands.

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