Starvation still haunts Kalahandi and Balangir area of Orissa, India

December 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm 1 comment

BALANGIR: Poverty has been keeping date with the KBK region for 25 years. The journey began with Phanus Punji selling her sister-in-law Banita for Rs 40 in 1984 in Kalahandi and ended with claiming the latest victim, Minji Bariha in Balangir.

 In 25 years, many such harrowing stories hit the headlines, while many more went unreported. The embarrassment shifted from Kalahandi to neighbouring Balangir, where the trend began in 2001, at a time when poverty alleviation schemes were running rapidly. Unable to bear the pangs of hunger while some poor people sold their little ones, others kept waiting until the inevitable struck. Those cases, which were reported were looked into but soon faded out with the state government turning a deaf ear.

Sources said, like the reported hunger death of five members of Champe Bariha family of Chabripali village in Balangir in three months, was made a trifle issue, two similar incidents in 2001 were also sidelined.  

Severe drought then claimed 35-year-old woman Kar Bhoi of Badagumuda village. She died of hunger. Earlier, the death of a 30-year-old woman Premsila Bhoi in the same village caused an outcry in the Assembly with then local MLA Santosh Singh Saluja alleging that Bhoi and her three sons were without food for three days. Singh then also informed about starvation related death of five persons in Nuapara district and warned that there would be many.  

The death of Kar came at a time when Special Relief Commissioner HK Panda was investigating the alleged starvation death of Premsila Bhoi. Then too BJD-BJP coalition government led by Naveen Patnaik denied any starvation deaths in Balangir.  

Quoting a Supreme Court order, Raj Kishor Mishra, advisor, Supreme Court Right to Food Commission, said in an interim order SC in October 2002 fixed the responsibility on the Chief Secretary for any starvation deaths occurring in the State. He said following the order, the chief secretary then sent letters to collectors stating “The responsibility of the chief secretary is the collective responsibility of entire state administration of which the collectors are the key functionaries”.  

In 2002, Lalita Tandi of Kundabutla village under Bangomunda village died of starvation. Later, it was discovered that there was found food in her stomach during post-mortem and the case was pushed aside. Sanjaya Mishra, a researcher studying migration trend informed that in the last nine years 25 cases of starvation have been reported in Balangir alone of which seven have died and none has been accepted by the administration or government. He said there is also same number of incidents of child sale.


Entry filed under: Balangir, Breakdown in Balangir, Kalahandi, Kalahandi Balangir Koraput (KBK) region, Nuapada, Poverty and Hunger in Koshal region, Poverty politics, Region watch, Starvation, Starvation deaths.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kuna bag  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:09 am

    It is sameful and painful that starvation death and child selling is still occuring in our region.feudal rulers and feudal thought is responsible for this.


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