Water in 12th Plan

Water: Towards a Paradigm Shift in the Twelfth Plan 2013 Mihir Shah – Water -Towards a Paradigm Shift in the 12th plan
by Mihir Shah

The author is grateful to Mekhala Krishnamurthy and P S Vijayshankar for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
Mihir Shah (mihir.shah@nic.in) is Member, Planning Commission, Government of India.
The Twelfth Plan proposes a fundamental change in the principles, approach and strategies of water management in India. This paradigm shift was the outcome of a new and inclusive process of plan formulation, which saw the coming together of
practitioners and professionals from government, academia, industry and civil society to draft the Plan.

Beneath the Water Resource Crisis 2013 Beneath_the_Water_Resource_Crisis
by C J Perry

The Twelfth Plan proposals for a new approach to the water resources management as put forward in the article by Mihir Shah (EPW, 19 January 2013) are a bold recognition of the serious problems in the area. But some of the author’s ideas are less than convincing and the entire set of physical interventions that has been recommended seems to reflect a worryingly simplistic understanding of the realities
of hydrology and hydrogeology.

Harvesting food security

BABA MAYARAM 

  • Hopeful alternative:Utera farming enriches the soil quality and keeps away pests.
    Hopeful alternative:Utera farming enriches the soil quality and keeps away pests.
  • The beneficiaries:Ganpat and his wife Beti Bai at their farm.
    The beneficiaries:Ganpat and his wife Beti Bai at their farm.
 At the foothills of Datla mountain of Satpuda Valley in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh is located the picturesque village of Dhadaw. Located on the banks of Dudhi River that also defines the boundary of the district, Dhadaw falls in the district’s forest belt. Within the periphery of this village lies a world that has efficiently maintained the essence of traditional agricultural practices — a remarkable feat at a time when farmers are increasingly quitting this occupation across the country.

 


Known as utera cropping, six to seven types of crops are sown simultaneously in this type of cultivation. For example, seeds of urad, jawar, paddy, tilli, tuar, sama and kodo are mixed and then sown collectively. Sown in June, the crop is harvested at different times; urad is harvested first, followed by paddy, jawar and tuar.

Sixty-year-old Ganpat, busy harvesting the crop with his hansiya (reaping hook), shares: “Almost nothing or very less money is required for utera farming. With the combination of our hard work, labour of the bullocks and some help from the monsoon, our crops get ready for harvesting. Every year, we save some seeds for the following season, saving the cost of buying seeds. The bullocks also give us fertilisers which, in turn, nourish our soil.”

As he scales the scaffold to keep parrots and other birds away from the chickpea crop, he explains the significance of utera cropping in their lives. “Utera gives us the complete meal — dal, rice, wheat and oil. It fulfils our yearly requirements of pulses, oil seeds, and cereals. It gives cereals for human beings, stem, straw and fodder for animals, bio-fertilisers for soil and bio pesticide for crops.”

According to the District Gazetteer, people of this region earlier followed Milwan (mixed) farming, in which legumes are sown to maintain the fertility of the soil. Mixed crops are sown in various ratios. Birra was sown by mixing wheat and chana; tiwda and chana were also mixed; cotton, sesame, kodo and jawar were sown together.

Another benefit of sowing legumes along with other crops is that it lowers the need for additional nitrogen-based inputs. Farmers believe that if one crop fails in utera, other crops compensate for it — a sharp contrast to cash crops, where farmers suffer intensely if the crop is destroyed by insects or pests, or even by natural forces. In 2011, soybean crops were completely destroyed and three farmers committed suicide in Hoshangabad.

Ramkhyali Thakur, a farmer from Dhadaw, considers this cropping method to be better than chemical farming because of its low dependence on money and chemical fertilisers. Since every crop gets ready at different interval, family members usually suffice to carry out the harvest. This saves their limited financial resources that would otherwise go into hiring expensive farm labourers and harvester machines. In all, this traditional form of agricultural practice makes a multi-faceted contribution to food security, preservation of soil, live stock breeding, bio-diversity and environmental concerns.

A few years ago, every household had a kitchen garden in which utera crops were sown. Many green vegetables, seasonal fruits and cereals would be planted in the backyard of every house. Bhata, tomatoes, green chilli, ginger, ladies finger, semi (ballar), corn, jawar, among others, were planted. Munga, lemon, berries and guava from these kitchen gardens were a good source of nutrition for the children. Water from household chores would be recycled to feed these crops. Pity, this practice is limited to merely a handful of families.

The livelihood of the people of Dhadaw strongly depends on the traditional utera method and on the forest. The farm and forest duo gifts them everything they require for their daily lives. It also preserves biodiversity by preserving soil, water and the environment.

Utera and mixed cropping are not the only methods of traditional farming that have the potential to liberate us from the shackles of chemical farming. There are several other methods of traditional farming, depending on the climatic and environment conditions of a particular region; satgajra (seven grains), navdanya (nine pulses), and barah anaja (twelve cereals) are various forms of agricultural practices. Each has its own benefits: they resist pest invasion, help increase natural fertilisation of the soil and provides food security.

According to Chandrabhan, an ardent advocate of utera farming, “Chemical farming is burning the soil. It is killing the micro-organisms which help make the soil more fertile. Our fellow farmers need to get rid of their dependency on chemicals. It is up to us to turn the tide.”

(Charkha Features)

Practising traditional utera methods has helped Dhadaw farmers keep away the harmful aspects of chemical farming

Seeds of suicide and slavery versus seeds of life and freedom

 
Contrary to its claims, Monsanto’s monopoly on seeds in India are the root cause behind the sharp increase in suicides.
 

Soaring seed prices in India have resulted in many farmers being mired in debt and turning to suicide [Reuters]
Monsanto and its PR men are trying desperately to delink the epidemic of farmers suicides in India from its growing control over the cotton seed supply. For us it is the control over seed, the first link in the food chain, the source of life which is our biggest concern. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life. Including the life of our farmers.

The trends of Monsanto’s concentrated control on the seed sector in India or across the world is the central issue. This is what connects the farmer suicides in India, to Monsanto v Percy Schmeiser in Canada, orMonsanto v Bowman in the US, to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty. Through patents on seeds, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” on the planet, collecting rents from life’s renewal and from farmers, the original breeders. Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not the “creation” or invention of the plant. They are seeds of deception – the deception of Monsanto being the creator of seeds and life, the deception that while it sues farmers and traps them in debt, it is working for farmers’ welfare and “improving farmers lives” – the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of super pests and super weeds [PDF].

In 1995 , Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint venture with the Indian company Mahyco.

In 1997-98, Monsanto started open field trials of its propriety GMO Bt cotton illegally, and had announced it would be selling the seeds commercially the following year.

India has had rules for regulating GMOs since 1989 under the Environment Protection Act. Under these rules, it is mandatory to get approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the Ministry of Environment for GMO trials.

When we found out that Monsanto had not applied for approval, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto in the Supreme Court of India. As a result, Monsanto could not start commercial sales of its Bt cotton seeds until 2002. But it had started to change Indian agriculture before that.

‘Seeds of suicide’

The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the government of India to deregulate the seed sector.

 Farmers’ suicide spikes in India Watch >>

Five things changed with Monsanto’s entry. First, Indian companies were locked into joint ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased. In the case of cotton, Monsanto now controls 95 percent of the cotton seed market through its GMOs. Second, seed which had been the farmers’ common resource became the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties thus raising the costs of seed. Third, open-pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable patented commodity. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure. Finally, Monsanto started to subvert India’s regulatory processes, and in fact started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public private partnerships (PPP).

The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides, and agrarian distress.

I have always been critical of reductionism. I look at systems, and at contextual causation. It is this system that Monsanto has created of seed monopoly, crop monocultures and a context of debt, dependency and distress – which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt. The highest acreage of Bt cotton is Maharashtra, and this is also where the highest farm suicides are. According to P Sainath, who has covered farmer suicides extensively: “The total number of farmers who have taken their own lives in Maharashtra since 1995 is closing in on 54,000. Of these, 33,752 have occurred in nine years since 2003, at an annual average of 3,750. The figure for 1995-2002 was 20,066 at an average of 2,508.” Suicides have increased after Bt cotton was introduced. The price of seed jumped 8,000 percent; Monsanto’s royalty extraction and the high costs of purchased seed and chemicals have created a debt trap.

According to data from the Indian government, nearly 75 percent rural debt is due to purchased inputs. Farmers’ debt grows as Monsanto profits grow. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are those of suicide. An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton growing states in India: “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”

Moreover, after the damning report of the parliamentary committee on Bt crops, the panel of technical experts appointed by the supreme court has recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.

And the ultimate seeds of suicide are Monsanto’s patented Terminator Tecnology that create sterile seed. The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from it.

Seed sovereignty

“Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”

“Produce more. Conserve more. Improving farmers’ lives.”

This is the announcement on Monsanto India’s website. All the pictures are of smiling prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. However, we see that the reality on the ground is completely different. Farmers are in debt and in deep distress, and have become dependent on Monsanto’s seed monopoly. Most of the farmers who have committed suicide in India did so due to being trapped in debt and are in the cotton belt – which has become a suicide belt now: The highest suicides are in Maharashtra. Monsanto’s talk of “technology” tries to hide its real objectives of ownership, where genetic engineering is just a means to control seeds and the food system through patents and intellectual property rights.

A Monsanto representative admitted that they were “the patient, diagnostician, and physician all in one” in writing the patents on life sections in the TRIPS agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the objective. Monsanto has gone very far down the road of destroying biodiversity and seed sovereignty. It is now extending its patents to conventionally-bred seed – as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low-gluten wheat it had pirated from India, which wechallenged as a biopiracy case in the European Patent Office.

That is why we have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto’s Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides. We save and share seeds of life and freedom – diverse, open-pollinated, GMO-free, patent-free seeds.

Dr Vandana Shiva is a physicist, eco-feminist, philosopher, activist, and author of more than 20 books and 500 papers. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and has campaigned for biodiversity, conservation and farmers’ rights – winning the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. 

Govt flouts its own pest control norms

http://epaper.mailtoday.in/epaperhome.aspx?issue=2732013
By Dinesh C. Sharma in New Delhi

THE regulatory system for chemical pesticides in India is in a shambles. Government agencies are themselves blatantly violating the national law meant to regulate the use of pesticides.

State agriculture departments, agriculture universities, National Horticulture Board ( NHB), Tea Board, Spices Board and other government agencies are promoting the use of harmful pesticides among farmers, a new investigation by the Centre for Science and Environment ( CSE) has revealed.

Pesticide use in the country is regulated by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee ( CIBRC), a wing under the agriculture ministry.

Every pesticide being used in the country has to be registered with CIBRC and the registration is pest and crop specific.

However, this system is being openly flouted by government organisations which are recommending use of pesticides for crops and pests not approved by CIBRC, according to a review of pesticides being used for 11 important crops in the country — wheat, paddy, apple, mango, potato, cauliflower, black pepper, cardamom, tea, sugarcane and cotton.

The pesticide recommendations made by state agriculture universities, agriculture departments and other boards for a crop do not match those pesticides registered with CIBRC, CSE has found. “ This is completely illegal.

A particular pesticide may be registered for a particular pest and particular crop, and its use in any other way is violation of law”, said Chandra Bhushan, who led the CSE study.

For instance, the Punjab Agricultural University has recommended 40 pesticides for wheat, of which 11 pesticides are not registered by CIBRC for wheat. The agriculture department in Mad- hya Pradesh recommends 29 pesticides for wheat, of which nine are not registered. The NHB recommends 19 pesticides for apple, of which 8 are not registered. Similarly, just one of the seven NHBrecommended pesticides for cauliflower is registered with CIBRC. Violations are seen across states and across all crops.

“ What we are seeing currently is indiscriminate recommendations by universities and agriculture departments. Indiscriminate use follows naturally”, said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture. “ As it is, we have approved a large number of chemicals, including known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors and pesticides banned elsewhere. There is no assessment being done for synergistic effects of cocktails of chemicals being used”. The CIBRC registers pesticides while the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India ( FSSAI) sets the Maximum Residue Limits ( MRLs) of pesticides for crops it has been registered for. Of 234 registered pesticides, FSSAI has not set MRLs for 59 pesticides. A review of MRL status of 20 commonly used and recommended pesticides showed that these limits for 18 pesticides are not complete.

MRLs have been set for broad groups like fruits, vegetables and food grains rather than specific crops while the pesticides have been registered for specific crops.

“ A crop is not supposed to contain residues of a pesticide, which is not registered for it. Otherwise, it will be considered adulterated. If pesticides recommended by state and other bodies are different from the CIBRC registration then the crops produced will be considered adulterated despite farmers following recommendations,” Bhushan said.

A TOXIC TALE

Multiple agencies involved in regulation, no coordination among them

States are recommending to farmers pesticides not registered with the central government

Unapproved pesticides being used for wheat, paddy, mango, apple, potato, cauliflower, black pepper, cardamom, tea, sugarcane and cotton in several states

Maximum Residue Limits ( MRLs) for 59 pesticides have not been set and those which have been set do not cover all the crops for which a pesticide has been registered

The registration process does not have sound provisions to ensure setting of MRLs before registration

No steps taken to ensure compliance with the acceptable daily intake of pesticides and monitoring of pesticide residues regularly

Kerala: Agriculture varsity fails to reap success

K. S. SUDHI

  • The entrance to the Kerala Agricultural University campus near Thrissur. Photo: K.K. Mustafah
    The HinduThe entrance to the Kerala Agricultural University campus near Thrissur. Photo: K.K. Mustafah
  • P. Rajendran, Vice Chancellor, Kerala Agricultural University. Photo: K.K. Mustafah
    The HinduP. Rajendran, Vice Chancellor, Kerala Agricultural University. Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Burgeoning debts, massive spending on salary and pension of staff and insufficient allocation from the exchequer pinning the university to the ground

The Kerala Agricultural University is struggling to survive the inclement weather in Kerala.

Questions are now being asked about the relevance of the university, established for providing “excellence in agricultural education, research and extension for sustainable agricultural development and livelihood security of farming community”, in a State where agriculture has ceased to be a profitable vocation.

The drastic reduction in agriculture holdings, reduced productivity and falling income are deterring youngsters from taking up agriculture. The ever increasing cost of labour and acute shortage of farm workers too dissuade even those interested in farming from the field.

Has the university succeeded in supporting the farmers and farming sector of the State or has it ended as another white elephant which serves only the ends of its employees? A cursory look at university’s functioning would tempt one to take the later view.

HUGE DUES

Burgeoning debts, massive spending on salary and pension of the staff and insufficient allocation from the exchequer are pinning the public sector institution to the ground.

The KAU is one of the biggest employers of the State with around 4,500 persons including over 2,500 farm workers and 1,800 ministerial staff in its pay rolls. After splitting the annual plan fund between pensions and salaries, precious little is left for the university for its projects, say those associated with the institution.

“The university has an outstanding liability of around Rs. 218 crore including the Rs. 62 crore retirement benefits of its former employees,” says P. Rajendran, Vice Chancellor of the university. The demand for funds for clearing the debts has not materialized.

The trifurcation of the KAU into Kerala University for Fisheries and Ocean Studies and the Kerala University for Veterinary Sciences was expected to shed the flab. However, it has only increased the burden of the KAU. Under the trifurcation package, it parted with some of its holdings and staffers. While 75 staffers opted for the Fisheries University, 160 went to the Veterinary University. However, the KAU continues to pay the pension and other retirement benefits to around 4,800 persons including those who served the fisheries and veterinary faculties of the undivided university.

FOOTPRINT IN FARM SECTOR

Despite its shortcomings, the university has left its footprint in the socio-economic and agriculture sectors of the State, claim those at the helm of affairs of the university.

Most rice varieties cultivated in the State including Uma, Jyothi and Prathyasha were developed by the university over the years. It has also developed 56 varieties of vegetables including bitter gourd and ladies finger. Six banana varieties, seven pepper and salinity-resistant rice varieties are the contributions of the university. Besides Kerala, a large number of farmers in the neighbouring States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are using varieties developed by the university, says Mr. Rajendran.

The vice chancellor also took pride in claiming that most of the officials of the State Agriculture department and related institutions were the alumni of the university. It has also been serving the State and its farmers through various extension activities. Small farm mechanisation, precision farming, improvement of productivity, value addition to agriculture produces and promoting agri-business will be the future thrust areas of the university, he says.

T.R Gopalakrishnan, Director of Research, KAU, believes that researches undertaken by the university are still relevant in Kerala. The university was now focused on addressing the issues raised by shortage of labourers and challenges of climate change in the agriculture sector, he said.

According to an earlier document, the institution provided economic benefits to the tune of Rs. 600 crore annually to the State in general and farmers in particular. The assessment was made after “taking into account the area under which the particular crop is cultivated and the increase in the production per variety,” it said.

But the critics of the university simply refuse to buy the arguments of the top honchos of the university.

Tony Thomas, president of One Earth One Life, an NGO, says the university has become a burden on the State as it failed the farmers and the farming sector.

Each year, around 10 persons obtain their doctorate in agriculture from the university. However, most of them would be of no benefit to the farmers. The agriculture scientists don’t have any on-farm experience.

Even while claiming that the paddy varieties developed by them are farmed extensively in Kerala, it should be seen how many farmers were using these seeds. A large number of farmers from Palakkad are procuring seeds from agricultural universities of Tamil Nadu, he says.

The university representatives had vehemently opposed the farming practice at a meeting convened by the previous government for formulating an organic farming policy for the State.

The university also failed to protect the rich agro-biodiversity of Kerala, he says.

Summary of The National Food Security Bill 2013

 Tehelka Bureau

Revised version, as tabled in Parliament on 22 March 2013. Read full text of the Bill (Download PDF).

1. Preliminaries

The Bill seeks “to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto”.

It extends to the whole of India and “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different States and different provisions of this Act”.

2. Entitlements

Public Distribution System (TPDS)

Priority households are entitled to 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month, and Antyodaya households to 35 kgs per household per month. The combined coverage of Priority and Antyodaya households (called “eligible households”) shall extend “up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population”.

The PDS issue prices are given in Schedule I: Rs 3/2/1 for rice/wheat/millets (actually called “coarse grains” in the Bill). These may be revised after three years.

Children’s Entitlements

For children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, the Bill guarantees an age-appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local anganwadi. For children aged 6-14 years, one free mid-day meal shall be provided every day (except on school holidays) in all schools run by local bodies, government and government aided schools, up to Class VIII. For children below six months, “exclusive breastfeeding shall be promoted”.

Children who suffer from malnutrition will be identified through the local anganwadi and meals will be provided to them free of charge “through the local anganwadi”.

Entitlements of Pregnant and Lactating Women

Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after child birth) as well as maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, in instalments.

[Notes: (1) “Meal” is defined in the Bill as “hot cooked meal or ready to eat meal or take home ration, as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. All “meals” have to meet nutritional norms specified in Schedule II. (2) The entitlements of women and children are to be delivered by state governments through schemes “in accordance with the guidelines, including cost sharing” to be prescribed by the Central Government. (3) Every school and anganwadi is to have “facilities for cooking meals, drinking water and sanitation”. (4) For purposes of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman in the household (not less than 18 years of age) shall be considered head of the household.]

3. Identification of Eligible Households

The Bill does not specify criteria for the identification of households (Priority or Antyodaya) eligible for PDS entitlements. The Central Government is to determine the state-wise coverage of the PDS, in terms of proportion of the rural/urban population. Then numbers of eligible persons will be calculated from Census population figures. The identification of eligible households is left to state governments, subject to the scheme’s guidelines for Antyodaya, and subject to guidelines to be “specified” by the state government for Priority households. The lists of eligible households are to be placed in the public domain and “displayed prominently” by state governments.

4. Food Commissions

The Bill provides for the creation of State Food Commissions. Each Commission shall consist of a chairperson, five other members and a member-secretary (including at least two women and one member each from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes).

The main function of the State Commission is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the act, give advice to the states governments and their agencies, and inquire into violations of entitlements (either suo motu or on receipt of a complaint, and with “all the powers of a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908”). State Commissions also have to hear appeals against orders of the District Grievance Redressal Officer and prepare annual reports to be laid before the state legislature.

The State Commission may forward “any case” to a Magistrate having jurisdiction, who shall proceed as if the case has been forwarded under Section 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

5. Transparency and Grievance Redressal

The Bill provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) and State Food Commission. State governments must also put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centres, help lines, designation of nodal officers, “or such other mechanisms as may be prescribed”.

Transparency Provisions

Mandatory transparency provisions include: (1) placing all PDS-related records in the public domain and keeping them open for inspection to the public; (2) conducting periodic social audits of the PDS and other welfare schemes; (3) using information and communication technology (including end-to-end computerisation of the PDS) “to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels”; (4) setting up vigilance committees at state, district, block and fair price shop levels to supervise all schemes under the act.

District Grievance Redressal Officers

DGROS shall be appointed by state governments for each district to hear complaints and take necessary action according to norms to be prescribed by state governments. If a complainant (or the officer or authority against whom an order has been passed by the DGRO) is not satisfied, he or she may file an appeal before the State Food Commission.

Penalties and Compensation

The Food Commissions have powers to impose penalties. If an order of the DGRO is not complied with, the concerned authority or officer can be fined up to Rs. 5,000. The Commission can authorise “any of its members” to act as an adjudicating officer for this purpose.

In case of “non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons”, such persons will be entitled to a food security allowance from the state government, as prescribed by the central government.

6. Other Provisions

PDS Reforms

In Chapter VII, the Bill states that central and state governments “shall endeavour to progressively undertake” various PDS reforms, including: doorstep delivery of foodgrains; ICT applications and end-to-end computerisation; leveraging “aadhaar” (UID) for unique identification of entitled beneficiaries; full transparency of records; preference to public institutions or bodies in licensing of fair price shops; management of fair price shops by women or their collectives; diversification of commodities distributed under the PDS; full transparency of records; and “introducing schemes such as cash transfer, food coupons or other schemes to the targeted beneficiaries in lieu of their foodgrain entitlements” as prescribed by the central government.

Obligations of Government and Local Authorities

The main obligation of the Central Government is to provide foodgrains (or, failing that, funds) to state governments, at prices specified in Schedule I, to implement the main entitlements. It also has to “provide assistance” to state governments to meet local distribution costs, but on its own terms (“as may be prescribed”). The Central Government has wide-ranging powers to make Rules.

The main obligation of state governments is to implement the relevant schemes, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government. State governments also have wide-ranging powers to make Rules. They are free to extend benefits and entitlements beyond what is prescribed in the Bill, from their own resources.

Local Authorities and Panchayati Raj Institutions are responsible for proper implementation of the act in their respective areas, and may be given additional responsibilities by notification.

7. Schedules

The Bill has three schedules (these can be amended “by notification”). Schedule 1 prescribes issue prices for the PDS. Schedule 2 prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations and related entitlements. For instance, take-home rations for children aged 6 months to 3 years should provide at least 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein. Schedule 3 lists various “provisions for advancing food security”, under three broad headings: (1) revitalization of agriculture (e.g. agrarian reforms, research and development, remunerative prices), (2) procurement, storage and movement of foodgrains (e.g. decentralised procurement), and (3) other provisions (e.g. drinking water, sanitation, health care, and “adequate pensions” for “senior citizens, persons with disability and single women”).

 

Summary of National Food Security Bill 2013 prepared by Jean Dreze on behalf of TEHELKA

THOUSANDS MORE FARMERS JOINING KISAN-KHET MAZDOOR MAHAPANCHAYAT ON PARLIAMENT STREET: MAHAPANCHAYAT RESOLVES TO STAY PUT UNTIL DEMANDS MET

FAMERS’ DEMANDS TO THE PRIME MINISTER

New Delhi, March 19, 2013: On the second day of a large farmers’ rally in the heart of India’s capital here today, the Mahapanchayat (great assembly) of farmers and agriculture workers resolved to stay put until their demands are met. In a historical new formation, people’s movements and large farmers’ unions have come together to defend land rights and protect farm livelihoods. Lambasting the government for its anti-farmer policies, speaker after speaker rejected government’s development paradigm, which neglects rural India and agri livelihoods. The night saw thousands of farmers sleeping on Parliament Street in the open, with the government choosing to ignore them. “We are the Anna Daatas who keep the nation alive and the government cannot continue with its impoverishment policies towards farmers. More people are headed towards Delhi now and it looks like the government will respond only when an issue reaches a flash point”, said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union.

The main demands of the Mahapanchayat include: (a) no land acquisition and taking back the land acquisition bill with its amendments to the standing committee, (b) enacting a farmers’ income guarantee act, (c) cancel free trade agreements, (d) promote ecological farming and stop toxic technologies like GMOs and pesticides.

 

 

The large gathering was addressed by farmers leaders and activists like Naresh Tikait, Yudhvir Singh, Ajmer Singh Lokhowal, Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Chellamuthu, Gurnam Singh, Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Kavitha Kuruganti etc.

 

 

“Two years ago, empty promises were made to us by the government; this was by the Prime Minister himself making assurances to us on March 8th, 2011. This is tantamount to cheating the largest chunk of citizens of the country and this is unacceptable. If the government does not act this time to respond to this non-violent movement, it would only reinforce the public perception and knowledge that the government is deaf to the needs of its citizens”, said a statement from the Panchayat.

 

 

The assembly saw many women farmers joining actively in the rally. Yesterday, there was a symbolic burning of the government’s land acquisition bill to show that it was unacceptable to the gathering. The Mahapanchayat also declared that unless the PMO responds to their demands, they will not move out.

 

 

 

For more information, contact: Dharmendar Kumar: 9219691168; Kannaiyan: 9444989543; Ashlesha: 9900200771

 

 

 

 

RIGHT TO FOOD CAMPAIGN REJECTS THE NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY BILL CLEARED BY THE CABINET

 
THE CAMPAIGN WILL CONTINUE PROTESTING FOR A COMPREHENSIVE FOOD SECURITY LAW
 
THIS IS A MERE SOP, A FOOD INSECURITY LAW AND NOT A FOOD SECURITY LAW

 

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
19th March, 2013

More than 500 people of the Right to Food Campaign sitting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi rejected the National Food Security Bill 2013 which was passed by the cabinet of the UPA Government today evening and will now be placed in the Parliament in this session.

NO TIME FRAME FOR IMPLEMENTATION

People were shocked to learn that according to the Bill that was passed, the law will not be applied in one stroke. The language of the law is that different dates may be appointed for different states and different provisions for the implementation of the Act.  This clearly means that there is no time frame for full implementation or objective criteria for phased implementation. It means the government in power has the choice to decide which state and what provisions need to be implemented. We condemn this as being against the fundamental rights of the people and the federal nature of the Indian state.  This also clearly shows that the Government is not really committed towards ensuring the end of food insecurity of the teeming millions of the country.

FLAWED FRAMEWORK

The Campaign feels strongly that there is a basic flaw in the framework of the Bill as there is a complete absence of guarantees for farmers’ livelihoods, increasing production, guaranteeing Minimum Support Price along with decentralised procurement and decentralised storage. These issues remain unaddressed and only lip service has been given to them by putting them in Schedule III (enabling provisions) of the Bill.

PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM (PDS) A MOCKERY

The Bill entitles only 67 per cent of the population to subsidised foodgrains under the PDS. This would continue the legacy of dividing the population into APL – BPL categories and the associated problem of unfair exclusion of food insecure households from the PDS.

Only the 2.5 crore households currently covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (10 per cent of the country’s total population) will get 35kg of foodgrains a month. The rest of the population entitled to PDS will get only 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month. However, according to ICMR norms, the monthly foodgrain requirement of an adult is 14 kg, and of a child is 7 kg. The monthly provisioning for only 5 kg of cereal per person not only makes a mockery of the intent of the bill, but also goes against the Supreme Court order which entitles every BPL household to 35 kg of foodgrains a month under the PDS. Is this a Food Security Bill or a Food Insecurity Bill, we would like to ask. Especially when the godowns are bursting with foodgrains this entitlement could have been raised.

The absence of entitlements to pulses and oil in the PDS shows that the Bill fails to ensure good nutrition of the county’s population.

TWO CHILD NORM IN MATERNAL ENTITLEMENTS AN INTENT TO CRIMINALISING WOMEN WITH MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN

The Standing Committee recommendation of two child norm for maternal entitlements for lactating mothers after delivery is accepted, although they have tried to be ambiguous and state that it will be according to the specifications of the Central Government scheme. As the scheme has two child norm, so it stays. This clause is almost criminalising women and higher order children by denying them this maternal entitlement.

ICDS AN INITIATIVE TO HAND OVER CHILDREN’S FOOD TO CONTRACTORS

While the Campaign is relieved that the Standing Committee recommendation of removing ICDS from the Bill has been has been rejected by the Cabinet, the continuation of Schedule II for ICDS and Midday Meals is very disturbing. This retains energy dense food and nutritional standards of the Women and Child Development Ministry, which can only be met if there is centralized factory based food production. The orders of the Supreme Court of keeping private contractors out of food schemes for children would be reversed as this opens the door for contractors and companies in supply of food in ICDS, in Take Home Rations in particular. Also the effort to provide local food through Self Help Groups etc also finishes.

NOT EVEN FOR THE DESTITUTES

The complete omission of community kitchens, starvation protocol and other support to vulnerable and destitute shows the complete lack of commitment of the Government towards the poorest who need the cheap food most.

OTHER ISSUES

Grievance redressal continues to begin at the district level which is ridiculous as people with grievances need redressal at the panchayat and gram sabha level.

Since UID and cash transfers were there in the original 2011 Bill, and there are no amendment related to them, they continue to be there. The Campaign demands their omission.

Tomorrow (20 March) members of the Right to Food Campaign will meet members of the Parliament and give them 165 gm of foodgrains (the daily consumption of PDS grain by a person entitled to 5kg of foodgrains a month) to show how paltry the provisions of the Bill are.

Also, a press conference will take place tomorrow at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi at 3:30 pm.

For more information, please contact Ankita Aggarwal (9818603009), Kavita Srivastava (9351562965) or Anuradha Talwar (9433002064).

With regards

Kavita Srivastava, Anuradha Talwar, Father Jothi SJ, Ashok Khandelwal, Balram, Neeta Hardekar, Rupesh and Sejal Dand

(On behalf of the Right to Food Campaign)

రాష్ట్ర రైతాంగానికి నిరాశ మిగిల్చిన 2013-2014 బడ్జెట్

రైతు కుటుంబాల సంక్షోభాన్ని దూరం చేయడానికి బడ్జెట్ కేటాయింపులు పెంచాలి -నిర్దిష్ట విధానాలు ప్రకటించాలి

 
రైతు స్వరాజ్య వేదిక, సుస్థిర వ్యవసాయ కేంద్రం డిమాండ్

2013-2014 సంవత్సరానికి ప్రత్యేక వ్యవసాయ బడ్జెట్ ప్రవేశ పెడతామని రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వం గత కొన్ని నెలలుగా  పదే పదే ప్రకటిస్తూ వచ్చింది. కానీ ఈ రోజు అసెంబ్లీ లో జరిగిన ఘటనలను  చూస్తే ఒక తమాషా ను తల పించింది . ప్రభుత్వం తాను యిచ్చిన హామీ నుండి వెనక్కు వెళ్ళింది . ప్రత్యేక బడ్జెట్ కొంతయినా సమస్యలను పరిష్కరిస్తుందని ఎదురు చూసిన రాష్ట్ర రైతాంగం నిరాశ చెందింది ఈ రోజు రాష్ట్ర అసెంబ్లీ లో వ్యవసాయ శాకా మంత్రి ప్రత్యేక వ్యవసాయ బడ్జెట్ ప్రవేశ పెడతారని ప్రకటించి,వ్యవసాయ బడ్జెట్ పేరుతో పుస్తకాలు కూడా ప్రచురించి, తీరా బడ్జెట్ ప్రవేశ పెట్టె సమయానికి  దానిని వ్యవసాయ సమగ్ర కార్యాచరణ ప్రణాళిక అని సవరించి మొదట్లోనే ప్రభుత్వం తప్పుటడుగు  వేసింది.
రైతాంగాన్ని మోసం చేసింది. ఒక వేళ బడ్జెట్ కాదనుకున్నా , కార్యాచరణ ప్రణాళిక అనుకున్నా అది కూడా సమగ్రం గా లేదు . ఈ  రోజు బడ్జెట్ ప్రసంగం  ఒక  టే ,వీ చానల్ లో గతం లో మంత్రి గారు యిచ్చిన వివరణకు ఏ మాత్రం భిన్నం గా లేదు అందులో కొత్త విషయాలూ లేవు.  సమస్యలను ప్రస్తావించకుండా ,వాటికి నిర్దిష్ట పరిష్కారాలు సూచించకుండా కేవలం యిప్పటి వరకూ తమ ప్రభుత్వం చేసిన పనులను చెప్పడం, కేంద్ర ప్రభుత్వం రూపొందించిన పంచ వర్ష ప్రణాళిక లక్ష్యాలను ఏకరువు పెట్టడం ,వ్యవసాయ శాఖ ప్రతి సంవత్సరం ఇంగ్లీష్ లో ప్రచురించే సంవత్సర కార్యాచరణను ప్రకటించడం తప్ప అదనం గా ఈ పాలసీ ప్రకటన లో మరేమీ లేదు.  వ్యవసాయ, అనుభంద రంగాల కేటాయింపులన్నీ ఒక చోట  చేర్చి ప్రత్యేక బడ్జెట్ అంటారేమో అని గత కొన్ని రోజులుగా రైతు సంఘాలు వ్యక్తం చేసిన అభిప్రాయాలకు అనుగుణం గానే  ఈ రోజు బడ్జెట్ ఉన్నదీ . సమస్యలను పరిష్కరించే విధం గా కాకుండా , వాటిని కొనసాగించే విధం గానే ఈ రోజు ప్రతి పాదనలు ఉన్నాయి,
  • రైతులకు మద్దతు ధరలు అందించేందుకు ఏ ప్రతిపాదనలూ లేవు .. బడ్జెట్ కేటాయింపు లూ లెవు. రైతుల ఆలంబన నిధి పేరుతో కేటాయించిన 100 కోట్లు కూడా ఈ సమస్యను ఏ మాత్రం పరిష్క రించా లేవు .
  • వ్యవసాయాధార ప్రాంతాలకు కేటాయించిన నిధులన్నీ ఇప్పటికే కేంద్ర ప్రభుత్వం వాటర్ షెడ్ కార్యక్రమాలకు యిచ్చే నిధులు మాత్రమే. అదనంగా ఈ రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వం యిందు కోసం కేటాయించిన నిధులు లేవు .
  • కౌలు రైతులకు బ్యాంకులు రుణాలు యివ్వడం లేదు . ఇందుకోసం కౌలు రైతుల తరపున రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వం కౌంటర్ గారంటీ యివ్వాలని రైతు సంఘాలు అడిగిన డిమాండ్ పై మంత్రి ప్రసంగం లో స్పందనే లేదు , ఈ సంవత్సరం కూడా  కౌలు రైతులకు  రుణాలు రావని తేలిపోయింది .
  • రాష్ట్రం లోని రైతులందరినీ వ్యవసాయ బీమా పరిధి లోకి తీసుక రావాలనీ, పరిహారం చెల్లించే భాద్యత ప్రభుత్వమే తీసుకోవాలనీ కొరామ్. కానీ ఈ విషయం లో నిర్దిష్ట ప్రకటన లేమీ లేవు .బద్జెత్ కేటాయింపులు కూడా పెంచలెధు. అంటే వ ఈ సంవత్సరం కూడా బీమా సౌకర్యం రైతులందరికీ అందదన్న మాట , అన్ని పంటలకూ,అన్ని జిల్లాలకూ గ్రామం యూనిట్ గా బీమా ఉండాలనే రైతుల కోరికను ప్రభుత్వం ఏ మాత్రం పట్టించుకోలేదు .
  • విత్తన బిల్లు విషయం ప్రస్తావించినా , విత్తన పధకం కోసం కేటాయించిన నిధులు మాత్రం విత్తన సమస్యను పరిష్కరించేవి కావు. కంపెనీలకు లాభం చేసే విత్తన విధానానికి ప్రత్యామ్నాయం గా రైతులకు హక్కులను కల్పిస్తూ నాణ్యమైన విత్తనాలకు హామీ యిస్తూ, ధరలను అదుపులో ఉంచుతూ  కొత్త విత్తన బిల్లును వెంటనే అసెంబ్లీ లో ప్రభుత్వం ప్రవేశ పెడితేనే రైతుల విత్తన సమస్య పరిష్కారమవుతుంది .
  • వ్యవసాయ అనుబంధ రంగాలకు కేటాయించిన నిధులు పోయిన సంవత్సరం కంటే తక్కువే..

రైతు  సంఘాలు . ప్రస్తావించిన ఏ ముఖ్యమైన సమస్యనూ పరిష్కరించే ప్రతిపాదనలు  రాష్ట్ర బడ్జెట్ లో గానీ,  వ్యవసాయ మంత్రి ప్రకటన లో గానీ లేవు . దీనిని పరిశీలిస్తే రైతుల బాధల పట్ల  ఏ మాత్రం ఈ ప్రభుత్వానికి ఛిత్తసుద్ధి లేదనీ, రైతుల ఆత్మహత్యలను ఆపే లక్ష్యమేదీ లేదనీ అర్థమవుతుంది
.

రైతు సంఘాలు ,రాజ కీయ పార్టీలూ  ఒక్క గొంతు తో రైతుల సమస్యల పై మాట్లాడక పోతే ,ఉమ్మడిగా కార్యాచరణకు  దిగకపోతే  ఈ సమస్యలు పరిష్కారం కావు.

అసెంబ్లీ స్థాయీ సంఘాలపై మన ఒత్తిడిని కొనసాగించి  ప్రత్యేక వ్యవసాయ బడ్జెట్(  పాలసీ ప్రకటన) ను మరింత సమగ్ర పరుచుకునే కృషి ని  ఉమ్మడిగా
కొనసాగిద్దామని మేము విజ్ఞప్తి చేస్తున్నాం