THE Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan Saturday started a padyatra in Latur district to create awareness about the recent Supreme Court order vis-a-vis mid-day meal and MNREGA, and the “failure of the government” to do anything in these areas.
The padyatra, led by Yadav, started from Somvati of in Latur district, covered more than 20 km, passing through various villages of Latur, including Babhalgaon and Katpur. The padyatra will continue for five days in Latur and then move to Bundlekhand. It is being described as “Jal-Hal” yatra.
Voicing concern over “ineffective administrative practices” being followed in the drought-affected regions, Yadav said, “Drought is not brought on by nature, but is man-made or policy-made.”
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Yadav said the Supreme Court recently gave a historical decision regarding mid-day meal and MNREGA. “The court said that mid-day meal should be served throughout the summer. And the court has also ordered release of outstanding funds for implementation of MNREGA. However, in a state like Maharashtra, which was pioneer, the state of MNREGA is pathetic,” Yadav told The Indian Express.
Yadav said they were highlighting the Supreme Court order and at the same spreading awareness among the farmers about their rights.
In a release, the Swaraj Abhiyan said drought hit Indian states almost every second or third year, but “under no circumstances, the situation of drought should be turned into a famine. We want to achieve a suicide free India”.
Rajendra Singh, known as the “water man” from Jal Biradari, joined the padyatra. He and Yadav interacted with the people from villages and gathered information from people to be conveyed to the government. “Aaj Bhi Khade Hain Talaab”, a book by water conversationalist Anupam Mishra, which collates the knowledge and methods of promoting water conservation, water management and traditional rainwater harvesting, was distributed among the villagers. The local team of Swaraj Abhiyan worked with the locals utilising the resources available to construct a small dam, which was completed and inaugurated Saturday for public use, the release said.
Yadav said the government couldn’t be made accountable for everything. “Therefore all citizens should own up and help in fighting drought,” he said.
Maruti Bhapkar, one of the leaders of Swaraj Abhiyan, said the padyatra received good response as they were able to explain to the farmers their rights and how the government had neglected them. “We took the Supreme Court order to the farmers. Many of them said they were not aware of it and criticised the government for doing little,” he said.