Ranga Reddy District (Andhra Pradesh) Nov. 14(NNN): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday launched the National Food For Work Programme.
It was launched from Aloor village in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh, coinciding with the birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The programme will initially cover 150 most backward districts of the country and will provide additional supplementary wage employment.
After which it will be open to every poor person in rural India in need of wage employment.
Even though it is a 100 per cent centrally-sponsored scheme, the states would have to bear transportation cost, handling charges and taxes on grains.
In Andhra Pradesh, the FFW programme has evoked a lot of hope among the farming community.
Despite the government's promises six months ago, farmers here are still debt ridden and suicides by farmers are reported almost daily.
Rukumma, a resident of Aloor village in Ranga Reddy district, considers herself lucky. Despite another bad year of no rains and poor crop, her family will not go hungry.
Because Ranga Reddy is one of the eight districts in Andhra Pradesh which has been chosen to start the food-for-work programme.
"There is no water source and no crop. We are facing lots of problems. I hope our life will change for the better after this," said Rukumma.
In Ranga Reddy district, more than a hundred farmers have committed suicide in the last six months.
"Water is a big problem. All the men migrate is search of work because there is no employment," said Dashrath, a resident of Aloor village.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is going to Aloor village today to launch the much-awaited programme in 150 backward districts of the country.
The government has tried to avoid the pitfalls that the FFW programme of the NDA regime had faced, by bringing in some changes.
"The last time, we had both cash and rice component and there were a few works where only rice was given. But this time, there is no place where entirely rice will be given, a minimum of 25 per cent will be given in cash,'' said M Ravichandra, joint collector, Ranga Reddy District.
Groundwork to undertake drought-proofing works under the food-for-work programme has been on for several weeks before the formal inauguration.
For instance, 650 out of the 2,000 families in Aloor village have already registered themselves as labour. Even the works have been identified and approved.
In the last six months, tragic deaths of farmers have been reported almost every day in Andhra Pradesh.
Help has come late and worse, it may be too little in a state where 70 per cent of the area is declared drought-hit.