M.P. kids face chronic hunger: Report

Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh presents a "sad picture of chronic hunger and an administrative system that lacks accountability", according to the Right to Food Campaign Madhya Pradesh Support Group.

Presenting a Right to Food Campaign report titled "Children in Danger— Malnutrition Disaster in Madhya Pradesh", Sachin Jain said on behalf of his organisation here on Thursday that the State Government was superficially tackling the high level of malnutrition among a large number of children. He said that statistics released by Bal Sanjeevni Kuposhan Nivaran Abhiyan in May this year revealed that 50 per cent children in the State suffer from malnutrition and Madhya Pradesh is the worst performing State when it comes to tackling this problem.

Mr. Jain said that recently the "issue of malnutrition deaths" in the Ganjbasoda district was raised by newspapers and the Right to Food Campaign. This matter was also brought to the notice of the Supreme Court, he added. The State Government kept denying the reports of malnutrition deaths.

However, after an on the spot inspection of the area, the State Commissioner Women and Child Development had conceded that the problem of malnutrition had acquired serious dimension and in order to tackle the situation, the Centre had even cleared a special Action Plan. Mr. Jain said once it had been accepted at the Government level that the situation was serious in six Ganjbasoda villages, it remains to be seen what action would be taken against those officers who had submitted reports stating that all was well in these villages.

Citing the example of Ganjbasoda, Mr. Jain said: "Question arises what does the State Government intend doing to tackle the problem of malnutrition afflicting 50 per cent children in the State. According to the Bal Sanjeevni Kuposhan Nivaran Abhiyan, districts like Sidhi, Sheopur, Badwani, and Khandwa are among the worst affected when it comes to the problem of malnutrition". He further said that Supreme Court had issued orders on April 27 and 29 asserting that every habitat should have an anganwadi. Fifteen months have passed since the Apex Court issued this order but Madhya Pradesh still continues to have only about 49,000 anganwadis whereas their number should have gone up to over 1.10 lakh, he pointed out.

Seema, another Right to Food Campaign volunteer, showed media persons a sample of unpalatable wheat cereal brought from Miri Kheda village falling under the Devli Sector of Khandwa district.