Monday, December 18, 2006

8 hunger deaths in Badwani

HT Correspondent
Bhopal, December 17,2006

AT LEAST eight malnutrition deaths have been reported in six villages of Sendhwa development block of Badwani district between August and December this year, according to the Right to Food Campaign (RFC) support group.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, the RFC support group said the ground reality was very different from that projected by the State Government.

The group members said they would soon file litigation with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh.

The group has demanded a white paper on malnutrition status of children of Saharia and Barela tribes, Rs 800 crore budget for supplementary nutritious food, arrangements for intense monitoring of malnutrition, particularly in endemic tribal pockets and fixing responsibility on senior officials in areas where malnutrition deaths have been reported.

The press conference was organised ahead of the `Bal Adhikar Samvad’ to be held in New Delhi on December 19 where a report titled `Focus on children under six’ will be released by eminent economist Amartya Sen and other dignitaries.

Representatives of the RFC support group members (representatives of various voluntary organisations) supported the recently released data of the National Family Health Survey III (NFHS-III) that shows the malnutrition per cent in the State has gone up to 60 per cent. They presented some data from Badwani district in support of their claim.

Dr Ghanshyamdas Verma of Adharshila Learning Centre, Sakad Sendhwa Badwani and Mukesh Dudwe of Adivasi Mukti Sangathan working with Barela tribal in Badwani district claimed that out of the 147 children in the six villages of Chatli, Kunjri, Bhurapani, Pipaldhar, Merkhedi and Sakad in Sendhwa block, eight had died during last five months, owing to malnutrition.

Of these five deaths allegedly occurred in Sakad village. Of the 147 children 46 children are in grade III and 17 children in grade IV of malnutrition (the severest situation) while 16 and 46 respectively are in grade I and II.

Workers alleged malnutrition grading by the State Women and Child Department was doubtful as most of the ground level workers of the department (mainly anganwadi workers) were not trained for the purpose and weighing machines did not function properly at many places. They also alleged that in many cases the block level officers sent across bogus data to district officials and these data form the basis of Government figures.

Representatives said apart from moving the NHRC in the matter, they will be conducting in-depth studies in tribal areas to bring forth the actual situation, will be compiling a report on the implementation of Sup-reme Court orders and will id-entify malnutrition endemic areas in the State and demand intervention. Umesh Vashisht, Uma, Prashant and Sachin Ja-in of the support group were present at the press conference.

As published in Hindustan Times Bhopal December 18, 2006

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