Deserted, widowed single women demand land for commune farm in Himachal

Shimla: Willing to shun freebies, deserted, widowed and divorced single woman have asked the government to provide them land for starting a commune farm that could help them to find self-employment and live a life of dignity.

State convener Nirmal Chandel, Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (EKSS) – a NGO said “we put up our demand before chief secretary Rajwant Sandhu today that 50 bighas of land be provided to ‘Ekal Nari Kishan Coop Society’ for starting a commune owned farm on a trial basis.”

Denied of property rights, she said that most women in their organization were with a farming background.

“If so much land can be leased to industry or private universities, the government can surely lease out a small patch to hapless women, who would like to live with dignity and demonstrate that rather surviving on state charity we are capable of becoming tax payer citizens of the country,” said Chandel.

Director of SUTRA, Subhash Mendhapurkar, who has been instrumental in bringing together abandoned, widowed and divorced single women into the ‘Ekal Nari’ organization in Himachal said that employment opportunities under MNREGA had proved very beneficial to sustain these women who had nowhere to go.

He said success of the 2008 agitation by these women did enable them to obtain separate ration cards but being single, under the PDS distribution system they were getting very little monthly rations.

He demanded that all hapless single women be brought under BPL category. Many of these women, especially in cases where divorce proceedings were delayed by 3 or more years, were facing trouble in getting registered for Aadhar (UID) as on paper they continued to shown as married, said Subhash.

Should the government decided to target subsidies through Aadhar cards they would be left out, he added.

He also asked the courts to intervene and complete divorce cases in a stipulated period for women suffered heavily if the case was a prolonged legal battle.

He claimed that the number of deserted and widowed women was very high in the districts of Kangra, Una, Hamirpur and Bilaspur.

“Our survey had shown that that there were about 36,000 of them in Kangra, Una and Hamirpur, he said.

In the state one out of seven women was deserted, widowed or divorced and in Hamirpur the number was higher with one out of five being such a single woman, said Subhash.

EKSS was one the three worldwide organizations that was conferred the 2010-11 Ashok Foundation Change Maker Award, which carried a $ 50,000 cash reward.

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1 Comment

  1. says: PradeepR

    It may not be prudent to club widowed, deserted and divorced on one platform. Widowed, yes. But divorced or deserted should be case to case basis. Or else, there is a pitfall of setting a wrong precedent. What starts as a welfare, has sometimes turned out to be unfair to the State and taxpayers at large. Far-sightedness, not the scorecards of NGOs should not be driving force of the state policy. And yes, why just widowed? Aren’t survivors of accident victims not equally deserving? Something Himachal is getting a dubious distinction for in the country.

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