Rights groups concern over hunger situation in Bhuvan valley

A Hongkong based rights group Asian Human Rights Commission is working on the situation of hunger, malnutrition and lack of medical care in Bhuvan Valley Tea Estate in Cachar where reportedly 11 plantation labourers died recently due to starvation and several others are on the verge of death. The AHRC informed that it would issue a hunger alert world wide very soon and would lodge complaint with the relevant United Nations bodies along with creating pressure on the authorities in India.

A local rights group Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) conducted a fact finding exercise on the situation and published a report on its website. The report was also sent to the national and international human rights organizations including the AHRC. The BHRPC also filed a complaint at the Assam Human Rights Commission and wrote to the other authorities including the prime minister of India and the chief minister ofAssam.

 The fact-finding report of the BHRPC reveals that the recent deaths of 11 labourers are due to starvation, malnutrition and inaccessibility of the labouerers to the medical services. It also states that the conditions of at least 5 others are so bad that it would be hard for them to survive a month without urgent medical and nutritional intervention. The report concludes that arbitrary and exploitative actions of both the estate management and government drove about three thousand labourers and their families on the verge of starvation. The management abruptly closed the garden on 8 October, 2011 without paying wages due for 9 weeks, dues from provident fund and other benefits and alternative livelihood. The government public distribution system (PDS) and health care facilities are conspicuous by their absence. It expressed concern that without urgent and substantial intervention reports of deaths will keep coming.

In the complaint filed at the state human rights commission the BHRPC submitted that the situation prevailing in the said tea garden is a situation of the violations of fundamental human rights provided in the Constitution of India and international human rights norms. The right to food is an integral part of the right to life enshrined in Article 21 and 51A of the Constitution. It is also a gross violation of the Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 1(2) and 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 27(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 12(2) of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

 The BHRC said that if no adequate and visible actions are taken within a reasonable time the BHRPC will take further actions including lodging formal complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Released on 02-02-2012

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