No starvation deaths: Minister

NEW DELHI, AUG. 30. The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr. Shanta Kumar, today refuted in the Lok Sabha the reports of starvation deaths in Orissa and Himachal Pradesh.

Replying to a special discussion on the issue, he dismissed the reports as ``a politically-motivated canard''. There was poverty but the country's image should not be tarnished by spreading false reports.

He said the Orissa Government's Chief Secretary had informed the Centre that the death of some persons in Kashipur were not due to starvation. In Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, he had investigated the reports of starvation deaths and found these to be incorrect. He said the Centre had adequate foodgrains to provide to the States. It was for the States to ask for foodgrains.

Mr. Shanta Kumar said there was no foodgrain shortage but the problem was the lack of an effective distribution system.