Pithoragarh villagers stage hunger strike

(From The Hindu, dt 14 August 2013, by C. K. Chandramohan)

Starving and irate residents of about 13 villages staged a token hunger strike before the office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Munsyari, in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand on 13th August to protest against the failure of the Government to provide food and essential supplies to them even after two months of the mid-June deluge and landslips.

Hundreds of residents of villages Senar, Pyanti, Kultham, Dilam, Tall Dummar, Jimighat, Dhapa, Ranthi, Gardhaniya, Bhadeli and Patharkhani are living without proper shelter and food with the local administration seemingly failed to provide them rations, tents, medicines and other supplies, said Sita Martolia and others from various flood and landslip ravaged villages.

The villagers accused the SDM of carrying out relief works only in villages pointed out by the local Congress MLA Harish Dhami. “We hope the Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna would order the District Magistrate to end this step-motherly treatment to us,” said Jagat Martolia district secretary of the CPI (ML).

Describing the recent flash floods as a result of illegal riverbed mining by unscrupulous elements, the villagers accused the MLA of supporting the mining mafia instead of helping the hapless victims.

Another villager Ram Singh Ghangaria said the victims would be forced to launch an indefinite fast at the SDM’s office if relief was not sent to the flood-ravaged villages within a week.

Reports of food scarcity have also come in from various cut-off villages of interior Uttarkashi where the authorities were sending rations and other essential supplies to the villages that were near the road head. “Why can’t the authorities repair the mule tracks so that rations could be transported to cut-off villages of Bhatwadi and Dunda,” asked Sanjay Negi, a social worker in Uttarkashi.

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