Jharkhand’s Food Security Act leaves hungry Tribals to die

Rocha Korwa sits in his hut alone, struggling with a bunch of Tendu leaves, a forest produce, that he will sell in the market for Rs. 10-15 for a bunch. He dreads the walk to the market, his 65-years-old knees struggle to move, making each step painful for Rocha. However, life wasn't always so lonely for Rocha. He lived in a family with his brother Akal and his wife and children. And then his brother died of starvation.

Unable to survive due to the lack of ration from the state of Jharkhand, Akal succumbed to hunger. Fearing a similar fate Akal's wife and children moved in search of food, leaving the 65-year old Rocha to fend for himself. But with no pension and no ration from the State since seven months, Rocha too is at the mercy of neighbours to survive.

Before October 2015, the brothers had ration cards which provided them affordable food and fuel under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), a government-sponsored scheme for affordable food and fuel to the poorest. But when the Jharkhand government launched the Food Security Act (FSA) scheme in October 2015, their old ration cards were cancelled, to be replaced with newer cards under the FSA.

Ironically, the Food Security Act was launched to give access to foodgrains to the economically vulnerable sections of Jharkhand. However, Jharkhand's many “particularly vulnerable tribal groups or PVTG”, one of the most marginalised tribes, are being ignored under the Act. The cancelling of ration cards has stopped ration led to many tribal villages to suffer in hunger.

While seven months later as Rocha still waits for his new cards, like thousands of other tribals, the state is 'focusing' on making the scheme digitally sound by introducing biometric handheld devices for dealers, GPS fitted PDS special trucks, SMS alerts to dealers, people's representatives and consumers.

Rocha, a member of the Korwa tribe, a PVTG. He is yet to get his old-age pension of Rs. 200 per month in spite of applying 1.5 years ago.

In India, we say respecting our elders is the highest form of culture. Then why are elderly like Rocha treated with such utter disdain by our governments? Help Rocha get his rightful ration and pension by calling Manoj Kumar, the Block Development Officer on +91-9431554279

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Mahima Bhengra.

Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ They give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.

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