Malnutrition has struck again in the Sheopur and Shivpuri districts in northern Madhya Pradesh with 25 tribal children perishing in the remote villages of the districts within duration of two weeks.
While the immediate cause of death in most of the cases was diarrhoea, almost all these children were severely malnourished, Shivpuri-based NGO Sahayog - Support in Development has claimed. Of the 25 children who have died during last week of August and first week of September, 21 are below six years of age.
Uma Chaturvedi of Sahayog told HT that surveys were carried out in ten villages of Karahal block in Shepour district last year and earlier this year and the data, where more than half children were found to be malnourished, was shared with the district authorities. However, no steps were taken leading to children losing their lives in the remote tribal settlements.
She also said that deaths of malnourished children due to water-borne and gastrointestinal diseases during later half of monsoon is a well known trend among the settlements of primitive Saharia tribals in these districts.
“Several deaths had been reported during the same time of year in 2005 and 2008 too and we have always asked for special healthcare and nutritional facilities to be provided to these children during late-monsoon period. But no action is taken,” Chaturvedi said.
Following several deaths reported from Veerpur tehsil (at Saharia settlement of Mongia ka Pura), the NGO undertook fresh surveys in the village on Saturday (September 15) and found that eight severely malnourished children had been shifted to Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), while six severely malnourished children were still in the village.
Chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Children's Rights (SCPCR) had also visited the settlement few days ago and asked authorities to shift malnourished children to NRC.
Among the latest deaths is that of four-year-old Saraswati (daughter of Jagram) of village Unchikhori in Karahal block, who had already been identified as severely malnourished. One-year-old sister of Saraswati is also severely malnourished. Another kid to die was one-year-old Satish (son of Jasram) in village Jhirnaya, also in Karahal block.
Malnutrition exists, but not cause of deaths: Sheopur collector
The district collector of Sheopur, Dnyaneshwar Patil, when contacted by HT, denied that the deaths were due to malnutrition. He said that most of these children were suffering from diarrhoea and their parents did not take them for medical treatment. Also some of them are 10-12 years old and some deaths are due to accidents, he said. “We have now alerted the entire field staff of health and women and child development department to keep track of ailing children in the tribal settlements and provide them on-spot treatment,” the collector said. As for malnutrition, the collector conceded that the menace very much existed in the district and steps were being taken to eradicate it. “There are 4400 identified severely malnourished children in the district and they are being provided extra care and even being admitted to NRCs if necessary,” Patil said.
Global rights body takes notice:
Asian Human Rights Commission, a Hong-Kong based voluntary organisation having special advistory status with United Nations has taken serious note of the deaths. It has decided to take up the issue with special rapporteur of the UN and chief justice of Supreme Court of India for intervention. It has also urged individuals and organisations to send online petitions authorities like prime minister of India, chief minister and chief secretary of MP and district collectors of Sheopur and Shivpuri, seeking action.
List of dead children
1. Sanjay s/o Parmal, age 4 years, Veerpur.
2. Parlekh s/o Munshi, age 7 years, Veerpur
3. Jitendra s/o Mahesh, age 6 months, Veerpur
4. Pappu s/o Durgesh, age 6 months, Veerpur
5. Pappi d/o Ramkishor age 6 months, Veerpur
6. Neeraj s/o Bhairu Jatav, age 6 months (village not known)
7. Pappu s/o Sobaran, 3 months, village Bhampura
8. Parwati d/o Mukesh Jataw, 12 years, village Gawadi,
9. Dilraj s/o Sitaram Adivasi, 5 years, village Bandarhar
10. Vaishnawi d/oRajaram village Khirkhiri
11. Lalaram s/o Sriram, 3 years, village Lahrauni
12. Ritu d/o Dalveer, 1 year, village Peeparani
13. Dharmendra s/o Lallu, 1 year, village Peeprani
14. Reena d/o Birbal, 5 years, village Semalda
15. Indal s/o ranveer, 1 year, village Semalda
16. Doya d/o Babulal , 6 years, village Kitrana Sahrana Karahal
17. A 12-year-old in village Fulda
18. Krishna s/o Shrilal Adivasi, Sheopur
19. Ankit s/o Giriraj, 4 months, Sheopur
20. Rachna d/o Attar Singh, 10 years, village Damraun Kala, District Shivpuri
21. JayShree d/o Vijayram, 12 years, village Damraun Kala District Shivpuri
22. Kanchan d/o Hariram, 12 years, village Kalauthara, District Shivpuri
23. Sanjay s/o Raghuveer, (age not known), Shivpuri
24. Saraswati d/o Jagram, 4 years, village Unchikhori, Karahal, Sheopur
25. Satish s/o Jagram, 1 year, village Jhirnaya, Karahal, Sheopur