HUMAN RELIEF: Monthly money offer for deprived woman – how many more like Myno in India ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
(well done Telegraph !!)
Malda, July 19: Myno Baske’s days of hunger seem to be over with the Malda district administration offering financial assistance to the 50-year-old widow who wanted to sell off her children so that all of them could survive.
Today, a team of officials visited Najarpur in Old Malda and submitted a detailed report to district magistrate P.K. Samanta. After going through the report, Samanta announced that Myno would receive Rs 750 and another Rs 120 a month under two different heads from the state social welfare department.
“We are also going to include her in the BPL category and provide her with a job card under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme,” said the district magistrate.
Samanta conceded that it was because of the indifference of the local panchayat and the block administration that the hapless Adivasi family had been deprived of social benefits.
“When I learnt of the woman’s predicament, I asked the block development officer to visit her village. There are over 600 poverty-stricken villages in the district and Najarpur features on that list. Selling one’s offspring is a crime. We are trying to find out the identity of the person to whom she wanted to sell her children. She had already sold one of her sons and we are trying to find that buyer as well,” Samanta said.
The woman had lost her husband about five years ago. Within two years, she sold off her eldest son, then aged 14, to a contractor for Rs 2,000. Her second son, Subhas, 13, is suffering from “debility” and can barely get up. She also wanted to sell off her 11-year-old daughter Fulmati as well.
Myno said some officials had visited her and given her assurance that her bad days would soon be over. “They wrote down what I said and told me that I would get money and ration. If that happens, it is good. I do not know how long we can last this way,” she said.
The district magistrate said after the woman’s plight was highlighted by the media, many people had telephoned him to offer help. “I told them that there are many government schemes for the poverty-stricken people and we are trying our best to provide relief to Myno. The family does not have any homestead land and we are trying to offer them land under the Bhoomi Daan scheme,” said Samanta.
The Baskes have been living in a ramshackle hut of bamboo leaves for around 20 years. Myno had said she collected herbs from riverbanks and boiled them for the children. “Sometimes, I get snails also and cook them. But even that we do not get everyday,” said the woman.
The incident has come as a major embarrassment to the district administration, especially at a time when the Centre is planning to introduce food security law for the “really poor”. The Muchia panchayat functionaries at Najarpur, 15km from here, had turned away appeals made by Myno as she did not have a BPL card.
The district administration has also taken note of Rs 1 crore lying unspent under Sahay, a state government scheme for the financially backward people.
“I have asked the district rural development authority to immediately submit a status report on the scheme and to explain why the funds could not be spent,” said Samanta.