Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh.
Another face of cruelty from the Northern Coalfields Limited and district administration of Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh) was seen last month when house of an eight and a half month pregnant lady was demolished without notice and was forced to deliver her baby in a field under the open sky. However, the infant could not endure the surrounding pathetic conditions and succumbed to death on seventh day.
The family claims that they are living at the place (Village Mahdeiya, Tahsil Chitrangi, District Singrauli) from more than a decade and shows their voter IDs and the head of the family, Mr Rohtak Khan, has the much celebrated Adhaar Card, too. All cards belong to the same address which, now after a decade, the administration says that the place was illegally possessed by the family and the land belongs to Northern Coalfields Limited, a subsidiary to Coal India Limited.
On 4th of April 2015, the house was demolished in the presence of P K Dubey, Personnel Manager, NCL and their Security Officer. Rajasthan Patrika, a leading Hindi Daily in the district covered this news about the demolition and the lady’s last month pregnancy, but neither the CMHO nor the District Collector took cognizance. Rajasthan Patrika covered the news of the delivery under the sky and the infant’s death, too.
A complaint is registered in the nearby police station by Rohtak Khan against those NCL employees. No action has been taken so far.
The family is forced to live under the sky since 4th April. The lady gave birth to a child on 19th April at the same place with the help of other women in family and no ASHA/ANM visited her to assist. Singrauli normally observes around 35 to 40 degree Celsius during April, the child could not endure the scorching sun and succumbed to death on 27th April 2015. Despite several requests, the family is not allowed to manage even a plastic roof, and is living under surrounding trees.
Violation/failure of NHM guidelines:
NHM states that registration of a pregnancy is mandatory nationwide. Subsequently, there are provisions of providing nutrition from nearest Anganwadi center to the pregnant woman and other required treatment or vaccination is necessary. The government also states that it will take care of all needs of a pregnant woman and the infant until infant gets to an age of six months. NHM also promotes institutional delivery and if there happened a delivery at home, it is required to send a safety review team to the infant’s family.
Sadly, no provision was followed by the district health machinery. In this case, Ms. Mejhan Jan, the pregnant woman, was not even registered in the first place. And hence, there was not a single visit of ASHA or ANM of the locality. There was no supply of nutritious food packet to Ms Mejhan Jan from the nearby Anganwadi. When the infant was born, the ASHA made her first visit to the mother and child, but that too was a formality.
Since there was no shelter left for the family, the delivery was under the open sky. The child could not endure the pathetic conditions and became ill. The family took her to nearby private clinics but the baby succumbed to death on 29th April.
Violation of the right to shelter:
India is a signatory of several national and international treaties which ensure its citizens the right to shelter. India’s international legal obligations with respect to the right to adequate housing are set out in a body of binding international treaties, which India has ratified. These instruments include: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). As a signatory to these conventions, India is obligated to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights set out in each of them are promoted and protected in Indian society. General Comment No. 4 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on “The right to adequate housing” sets out minimum core obligations towards the right contained in Article 11(1) of the ICESCR
that must be immediately fulfilled. These minimum core obligations include:
Habitability: There should be adequate space and protection from the elements. Conditions conducive to disease and structural hazards should be eliminated.
Accessibility: All should have access to adequate housing. The government must ensure that everyone has access to a secure place to live in peace and dignity.
Location: Adequate housing must allow for access to employment options (the right to livelihood), healthcare, schools and other social services.
It is very clear in this case that the family of Mr Rohtaz Khan was denied its right to shelter. Also, it is direly opposite to what India states while signing on several national and international treaties.
Kisan Adivasi Visthapit Ekta Manch,
Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh.
contact- Ekta Singh [email protected]