A report released by Abhiyan, comprising a group of activists from the food and nutrition sector, which surveyed people in May and September last year in Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune, Nandurbar, Solapur, Palghar, Nashik, Dhule, and Jalgaon reveals some startling data. The Centre announced a nationwide lockdown in March last year following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. Later, after a few months, restrictions were gradually eased in a phased manner.

It says that nearly 96 percent of the people surveyed under a food rights campaign in Maharashtra faced a drop in their earnings during the coronavirus-induced lockdown last year. Job losses and non-availability of casual work were the key reasons for this, and every fifth respondent was forced to go hungry because of no money to buy food. Of the total respondents, 52 percent were from rural areas and the rest from urban limits. Those surveyed included 60 percent women. Before the lockdown, nearly 70 percent of the respondents had a monthly income of Rs 7,000, while the remaining earned about Rs 3,000 per month.

Mukta Srivastava, the state’s convener for the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, said, “Around 96 percent people out of those surveyed admitted that their earnings dropped sharply in the lockdown period, and their situation remained the same five months after the lockdown was lifted. Nearly 49 percent of respondents of the survey, conducted as part of the nationwide Right to Food Campaign, had to borrow money from friends and relatives to buy food.”

Srivastava said, “During April and May, 43 percent of people had no income at all. Only 10 percent of them have come back to their pre-lockdown income levels. The situation of 34 percent of respondents, who had no income in April and May, remained unchanged till September- October. The findings also revealed that 12 percent of these people sold their jewelry while three percent sold their land during the lockdown to buy food.”

High time the government takes notice of these real facts.

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