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Right to Food alleges starvation death of woman in Odisha

Activists of Right to Food campaign demonstrate in New Delhi. Photo used for representation purpose only. File

Activists of Right to Food campaign demonstrate in New Delhi. Photo used for representation purpose only. File

The Right To Food (RTF) Campaign, Odisha, on Tuesday alleged that a tribal woman in Nayagarh district had died of chronic hunger and starvation.

The RTF campaign had sent a fact-finding team upon receiving news that Dukhi Jani, 46, a single tribal woman, had died without having food for three days in Kaliamba village under Nayagarh’ Nuagaon block last month.

The team comprising of Sameet Panda of RTF, social activist Laxmidhar Singh, economist Manoj Dash and journalist Rajesh Mahapatra had visited Kaliamba on July 3.

“Circumstantial evidences strongly suggest that Dukhi Jani likely died of chronic hunger and starvation. The government must act responsibly and promptly to avoid repetition of such case in future,” the team said in its finding.

“The death of tribal woman appears to be a case of death caused by chronic hunger and starvation, as the deceased had no or little food for a long period of time and went without food for three days before her death,” said Mr. Panda.

The team members found that the ailing lady, despite being an abandoned single woman without any income support, didn’t have an Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) card.

“Her AAY card was cancelled for reasons known to none. Depriving her from having access to the public distribution system for 15 months is a gross injustice. As a single woman she was also entitled to pension as social security, but she didn’t get any despite repeated applications submitted to authorities,” they pointed out.

“As per our investigation, she was finally allotted a ration number, but it isn’t clear why she wasn’t provided with rice and dal under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana. She did get rice under the State Food Security Scheme for the month of April to June 2020. But, it was not enough for her to survive as she could have purchased other essentials in lieu of rice,” said Mr. Panda.

The team also found violation of norms specified in Odisha Relief Code as the body was cremated without conducting a post-mortem. “This could be an attempt to suppress the reality that the case was a case of starvation death,” they alleged.

Demanding a thorough investigation into the incident, the RTF said those responsible for depriving Dukhi of her rights should be punished.

“The current situation due to pandemic has made many poor people like Dukhi Jani vulnerable to starvation. The administration must initiate a special drive to identify the vulnerable people and protect them from hunger. Universal coverage of PDS and provision of cooked food in the line of Emergency Feeding Programme can be reintroduced so that similar death could be avoided,” members said.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 5:04:59 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/right-to-food-alleges-starvation-death-of-woman-in-odisha/article32079431.ece