AHRC: 28 children die of malnutrition in MP
According to a press release of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), 28 tribal children have become victims of malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh. The AHRC believes that the families of the children were deprived of their right to food under existing government schemes and right to health.
Attributing its information to field reports by MP Lok Sangharsh Sanjha Manch and the state’s Right to Food Campaign, the AHRC has expressed the apprehension that in the face of the government apathy and inaction, many more children are on the verge of starvation. (Read the links below for more details.)
The AHRC has written to the Chief Justice of India, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and the Committee on the Rights of the Child calling for their intervention. It has also asked general public to intervene in the matter and write to higher authorities in Bhopal and New Delhi.
The AHRC release has listed circumstances of each case along with the medical conditions and their likely causes. In most cases, the weak and vulnerable children have become victims of easily curable diseases like diarrhoea due to malnutrition and lack of timely medical attention. Most of the deaths have taken place over the past two months and most victims belonged to Meghnagar block of the predominantly tribal Jhabua district.
It is shocking to know that most of the families of almost all the victims did not have the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) cards even though they are marginal farmers without irrigation or any other state support, the AHRC release notes. It says that most people with land, even if it is minuscule, are listed as above the poverty line in government records which means they are not entitled to most food or health subsidies.
The report also notes that the families of the victims were forced to migrate out of their villages for lack of work and even their right to 100 days employment was not given to them. In the two villages whose details have been obtained by the organisation, all the job card holders under NREGA got only 15 days employment last year and many are still awaiting their wage payments. It is ironicl that the social audits conducted in the villages were apparently managed so well that they did not record any problem or shortcoming in the implementation of the NREGA in the villages where children have reportedly died of malnutrition or starvation.