With three droughts in successive years, the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh is on the verge of famine, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav on 25 November claimed and called for urgent steps by the Centre and state government to address the problem.
Yadav said that he along with noted economists Jean Dreze, Ritika Khera and Sanjay Singh conducted a study in seven districts of Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.
The survey covered 27 tehsils and 108 villages of which 41 villages have starvation-like conditions.
"The Rabi crop has already been damaged. Ninety per cent of the people said crops of jowar, bajra, moong and soyabean have been damaged while 61 per cent of the farmers said their entire crop got damaged this year.
"The survey also revealed that nutrition has become a major issue in the villages there as 79 per cent people interviewed said they have not had a full meal for the past two months," he said.
Yadav said that even under the MNREGA, the employment which the villagers have got was only 9.5 days a month on an average. He noted that the survey was a mere interview and the figures could not be independently verified.
Swaraj Abhiyan an organisation founded by Yogendra Yadav and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan had undertaken a Samvedna Yatra across some drought-stricken states of the country.
Yadav said that water-scarcity is also a major issue faced by the villagers with 31 per cent villages facing the problem of non-functional hand pumps.
"66 per cent of villages have shown an increase in quarrels over the last month," Yadav said, adding that 24 per cent of respondents said they had to send their child for labour and had to borrow food for survival.
He stressed that the government needs to take emergency measures which includes measures to ease water crisis, save cattle, provide food to hungry, provide gainful alternative employment, give relief loans and recoveries and respond to the issue of farmers suicide.