Starvation of 33 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) families due to denial of ration in Jharkhand

On February 8, 2022 the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) has moved the NHRC against denial of food ration to 33 tribal families belonging to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) at Hesatu village under Tehri panchayat of Bargarh block in Garhwa district of Jharkhand for the last 15 months. Reportedly, the impoverished tribals are on the verge of starvation.Among those who were denied ration are families of Santosh Korwa (39 years) and Samundri Devi (40 years) of Hesatu village under Tehri panchayat of Bargarh block in Garhwa district. According to media report covered by journalist Animesh Bisoee, these 33 PVTG families belonging to the Korwa community mostly depend on forest products and seasonal agriculture. They are extremely poor and heavily depended on ration under the Public Distribution System. But since they have been denied ration for the last 15 months, these families are pushed to the brink of starvation.

AAY ration cards of 33 families deleted:

Since 2015, these 33 tribal families had been getting 35 kg ration under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY). But in November 2020, their AAY ration cards were arbitrarily deleted on the pretext that they were dead. But all these 33 families are alive. Hence, these 33 tribal families belonging to most vulnerable communities were denied ration under the National Food Security Act.

When the local right to food activists took up the matter, the district administration allegedly tried to cover up the matter by converting their (33 ration card holders) ration cards from Antyodaya Scheme to the Priority Households (PHH) Scheme in February 2022. Under PHH Scheme, the beneficiaries are entitled to only 5 kg of food grain per member of a family per month against 35kg of food grain per family per month under the Antyodaya Scheme. 

Pertinently, on June 3, 2021, the NHRC had issued “Advisory on protection of Human Rights of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) amid Covid-19” which included ensuring food security of the PVTG by the respective state governments. Clearly, the State government of Jharkhand has violated the fundamental right to food, provisions of the NFSA, orders of the Supreme Court and the NHRC’s advisory to protect human rights of PVTGs during COVID-19.

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