UPA government would not allow Mizos to starve: Sonia

June 15th, 2008 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Aizawl, June 15 (IANS) United Progress Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who visited famine-hit areas in Mizoram, has asked the state’s Mizo National Front (MNF) government not to misuse central funds meant to combat famine. “I have been told by villagers in remote areas that the central famine funds had never reached them,” Gandhi told a gathering late Saturday near Lengpui Airport near here.

The Congress president was on a daylong visit to the poll-bound northeastern state of Mizoram to assess the ground reality of the famine situation caused by bamboo flowering.

She visited six villages in the state where armies of rats have devastated agricultural fields.

“The UPA government would never allow Mizos to go hungry and would do everything to prevent them from starvation,” Gandhi said.

Over half a million people of the mountainous state are gripped by a famine following the flowering of bamboo and subsequent increase in rodent population. Rodents multiply rapidly after eating the protein-rich seeds that appear soon after bamboo flowering.

“During this visit I have seen how the MNF government has failed to tackle the famine despite huge central funds allocated to deal with the famine,” she added.

Accusing the MNF government of misusing the funds for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the Congress chief said: “If the central funds were properly utilised, the famine situation in the rural areas would have been much better.”

Accompanied by the Mizoram Pradesh Congress president Lal Thanhawla, Gandhi asked Congress party workers to monitor the utilisation of the various central funds by the Mizoram government.

Gandhi made it clear that her visit was not to campaign for the state assembly polls due this year-end, but to study the famine situation in rural Mizoram.

Before leaving for New Delhi by a special aircraft, the UPA chairperson told reporters that the central government has allocated Rs.1.25 billion to tackle the famine.

“Despite the adequate flow of funds to the state, hunger and shortage of food remains in vast parts of the northeastern state,” Gandhi added.

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