Over 1000 people from all across the country will sit at a three-day ‘Right to Food’ dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi starting December 13, to protest against the UID-driven cash transfer program and demand a more inclusive National Food Security Bill.
The protest is being organised by The Right To Food Campaign. The dharna will include a lively series of debates, public hearings, cultural activities and demos.
Here is the press statement from the Right to Food Campaign:
Even as the government is hoodwinking the entire public with false promises of mass cash transfers before the 2014 elections, poor people from all over the country will be converging to Jantar Mantar on 13th December to reassert their demand for the immediate enactment of a comprehensive National Food Security Act.
More than 1,000 people are expected from at least 12 different states, including (1) poor people who are being unfairly excluded from India’s targeted and divisive PDS, (2) victims of the “cash transfer fiasco” in Kotkasim, (3) women who are coming to demand more attention to the “aam mahila” (not just the aam admi!) in Indian politics.
The three-day “right to food dharna” at Jantar Mantar will include a lively series of debates, public hearings, cultural activities and demos. Each day has a different theme, as follows:
Thursday 13 Dec: Public hearing on food insecurity and protest against the government’s bogus, UID-driven cash transfer plan – including testimonies of affected people from Kotkasim.
Friday 14 Dec: “Aam Mahila Divas” – Public hearing on women’s issues such as unequal wages, lack of child care facilities and maternity entitlements, and absence of pensions for single women. Issues related to children’s right to food and child undernutrition, including the need for crèches and universalisation with quality of the ICDS and Midday Meal programmes, will also be discussed.
Saturday 15 Dec: “Dhikkar Divas” – Protest against the government’s indifference to food insecurity and demand for a comprehensive National Food Security Act.
There will also be an opening press conference, at the dharna site (Jantar Mantar) on Thursday 13 December at 1pm .
On the same day (13 December), hundreds of residents from Kotkasim are expected to join the “Right to Food dharna” at Jantar Mantar to share their side of the “direct cash transfer” pilot in Kotkasim – irregular payments, being forced to buy kerosene before they get their PDS grain, payment of Rs. 500 to open “zero-balance” accounts and so on.
In the Kotkasim pilot, subsidy at the point of sale was removed, and was to be reimbursed into people’s bank accounts. Instead of buying kerosene at Rs. 15/litre now people buy kerosene at Rs. 50/litre. After the introduction of the pilot in December, 2011, kerosene sales fell by 80%. This was hailed as a success in curbing “black” sales of kerosene. However, the truth is that many people did not have bank accounts and those who did were not getting the “direct cash transfer” reimbursed into their accounts.
On 10 December, 2012 KV Thomas (Minister, Food) stated in the Rajya Sabha that the very same model which has failed in Kotkasim is going to be introduced for foodgrains in six the Union Territories. His statement in the Rajya Sabha also betrays the fact that the government is not coming clean on which schemes are to be linked to the “direct cash transfers” Until a few days ago, many in government were at pains to clarify that food subsidies were NOT part of the “direct cash transfer” game plan. On 11 December, 2012, Jairam Ramesh, (Minister, Rural Development) has written in The Hindu, “subsidies on food and fertilizer have not been included in the first phase”, whereas on 10 December, 2012, KV Thomas (Minister, Food) stated in Parliament that it is being linked in six UTs.
For further details please contact Kavita Srivastava (9351562965), Dipa Sinha (9650434777), Ankita Aggarwal (9818603009) or the Right to Food Campaign Secretariat (011-2984 9563).