?Malnutrition deaths? at Sheopur village | india | Hindustan Times
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?Malnutrition deaths? at Sheopur village

Malnutrition deaths return to haunt the state administration if the claims of an NGO is to be believed. Eight such deaths have been recorded in Patalgarh, a primitive Saharia tribal village in Sheopur district, during the last two months, says a report of a fact-finding team of the Right to Food Campaign (RTFC) Madhya Pradesh Support Group.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 14:21 IST

Malnutrition deaths return to haunt the state administration if the claims of an NGO is to be believed. Eight such deaths have been recorded in Patalgarh, a primitive Saharia tribal village in Sheopur district, during the last two months, says a report of a fact-finding team of the Right to Food Campaign (RTFC) Madhya Pradesh Support Group.

The dead included seven children under five years and a disabled woman (22) who died during childbirth. Seven more children were suspected to have died of malnutrition in nearby villages of Gadhla and Pipraniya in the last three months, the support group claims. 

            PS reacts

"The matter has been brought to my notice and I have sought a report from local administration. After this, it would be ascertained whether they were malnutrition deaths. We are identifying weaker areas on malnutrition for special drives." 

Prashant Mehta, principal secy, women & child devt

Patalgarh deaths were reported despite the intervention of Supreme Court commissioners following reports of 13 children’s deaths in February last year. The commissioners had directed that an anganwadi be set up and public distribution system (PDS) strengthened at the village.

What did the RTFC Support Group team find at the village? The temporary anganwadi set up after the commissioners’ directive was not functioning over the last four months, no services of ANMs or trained midwives were available, the fair price shop under PDS was not distributing grain over the last three months, the validity of temporary ration cards given to villagers, after the directive, had expired and they had neither been renewed nor fresh cards issued.

Only 70 of the 538 villagers had Antyodaya Yojana cards, pension schemes were not being implemented and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) was yet to take off, the team found.

      Collector says

"There has been the death of a woman, but due to childbirth. I tour interior areas and find no dearth of grain. The PDS is working efficiently and nutritious food is available in anganwadis. The NGO seems to have some other intention in publicising the matter. "

GP Shrivastava, Collector

Sachin Jain of RTFC Support Group told Hindustan Times that a routine meal of most villagers consists of a chapatti and onion and most women get only a meal a day. The village, 70 kms from the district headquarters and 65 kms from the block headquarters (Karahal), is linked with a bad road. It is surrounded with deep forests infested with wild animals and dacoits.

The nearest hospital is 68 kms away and almost inaccessible to villagers. No medical camp or immunisation programme was organised in the village recently and villagers, mainly children and women, are exposed to fallouts of malnutrition, Jain said.

Since the Saharias were turned out of the forests and made to settle in villages on the outskirts, they have not only lost their livelihood but also their way of life. Facing social discrimination in villages, these tribals moved to distant settlements called saharanas which have hardly any basic facility or accessibility to health care, the RTFS Support Group report says.


List of malnutrition deaths In Patalgarh
Suraj s/o Arjun, four years, Iktara d/o Banwari, five years, Sanjay s/o Ramkumar, one year, all died in month of April, a four-year old daughter of Parsadi, Ganga and Jamuna both one month-old twin daughters of Dilli, died in March, Mamta, 22 years and her child, both died on May 1.