The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Orissa government on Thursday, asking for a detailed report on the hunger deaths in the state’s Balangir district.
The commission asked the state chief secretary to report in four weeks on the Hindustan Times expose on February 24, that at least 50 people died of hunger during the last two years.
NHRC is also planning to send its team to the district to learn the ground realities.
HT toured five blocks in the district — Khaprakhol, Belpada, Tureikela, Bangomunda and Muribahal — and also found that the deaths of breadwinners in the families had orphaned about 300 children in the region.
“The contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights violation of the victims,” the commission said, asking for the details of the persons reported to have died and the reasons for their deaths.
In 1992 and 2007, the state government gave undertakings to the Supreme Court on the steps it would take to prevent hunger deaths in the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput region.
Asking how many families in the district had access to the Public Distribution System, the commission directed the chief secretary to furnish details of the measures taken to strengthen the PDS and healthcare system in the district.