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Three Odisha tribals die after consuming mango kernel cake

Tribal farmer Arjun Santa's wife Sudhamani (30), sister-in-law Pramila Santa (28) and sister Namita (17) in Mainapadar village under Jharigaon block of Odisha’s Nabarangpur district had consumed the cake made from paste of fermented mango kernel on Monday.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2018 00:28 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Odisha,tribals,mango kernel
Officials said members of the tribal family complained of stomach problem and started vomiting and had acute diarrhoea since Tuesday night.(Picture for representation)

Three tribals in Odisha’s Nabrangpur district died in a span of 18 hours after consuming a cake made out of mango kernel, district officials said on Tuesday.

Tribal farmer Arjun Santa's wife Sudhamani (30), sister-in-law Pramila Santa (28) and sister Namita (17) in Mainapadar village under Jharigaon block of Nabarangpur district had consumed the cake made from paste of fermented mango kernel on Monday. Arjun’s seven-year-old son Prakash, who had also consumed the mango kernel cake is still critical, district officials said.

Officials said the family members complained of stomach problem and started vomiting and had acute diarrhoea since Tuesday night. “From our preliminary investigation we have found it to be a case food poisoning. We have sent a team of doctors to the village. The cause of death will be known after post-mortem,” said additional chief district medical officer Sivarani Mishra.

She said the family did not inform the local ASHA worker or rush the victims to the nearby community health centre for treatment.

Arjun Santa said he and his brother Abinash had gone to the field when their family members had the mango kernel cake. “We keep mango kernels for whole year round and eat it. The paste had turned black. When we reached home, my wife and sister experienced nausea and vomiting. We thought that they would be fine. But late in the night, my sister Namita died," Santa told local officials. The other two women died on Tuesday evening.

Santa's nephew Romeo,(5), survived as he did not eat the cake after finding it bitter.

BJP state secretary Prithwiraj Harichandan alleged that the Nabarangpur death was an example of the government's failure in effective implementation of the National Food Security scheme.

“Though the state government is adding more beneficiaries to the scheme, the truth is that the officials are not implementing the scheme effectively. Till it is not resolved, we would see such hunger deaths,” said Harichandan.

However, state commerce and transport minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi, who visited the village, said Santa's family members did not die of starvation.

“The family owns a tractor and the deceased woman was a ward member. They usually eat the mango kernel and in this case they suffered food poisoning,” he said.

The Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region, under which Nabarangpur falls, is among the poorest tribal dominated districts of Odisha, where hundreds of starvation deaths of tribals have been reported since the 1980s.

In 2001, at least24 tribals in Kashupurblock ofRayagada district had died after eating a gruel of mango kernel and a curry ofwildmushroom. The NHRC, which later probed the incident, termed the incident a case of food poisoning.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 00:28 IST