Posts filed under ‘Breakdown in Balangir’

Sam Pitroda’s new mission to make India hunger-proof and food-reliant

Following is a report by IANS published in http://www.deccanherald.com:

Knowledge and telecommunication evangelist Sam Pitroda, currently advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, is on a new mission – to make India hunger-proof and food-reliant.

He is working on a draft to set a countrywide network of private food banks – resource pools he calls them – that will work as a parallel distribution system to disburse food and allied infrastructure to people living on the edge of the poverty line and below in the vast Indian heartland. Pitroda will put his project, India Food Bank, in place by the yearend with the help of a Chicago-based international organisation, Global Foodbanking Network, a Stanford University think-tank that provides food aid to 30 nations.

Statistics narrate a grim tale of hunger in India, a country of 1.2 billion that is home to 27 per cent of the world’s hungry populace with one of the largest populations of malnourished children. Rough estimates by the Action Aid, a global anti-poverty organisation, cite that nearly 212 million people suffer from chronic hunger and undernourishment in India.

The United Nations World Food Programme paints a more alarming picture saying nearly 350 million of India’s population – roughly 35 per cent – is considered food insecure, consuming less than 80 per cent of the total energy requirements. “I identify with the problem because I was born in a large family in Kalahandi in the Bolangir district of Orissa that is ravaged by hunger and is prone to drought,” he said at an interface on his new project in the capital hosted by Aspen Institute-India.

“Three years ago, I took up the issue with a group of food activists at the Global Foodbanking Network in Chicago, the global capital of commodity trading. I told them why can’t we go to India and explore the dimension of hunger and malnutrition that can affect the future of India. More than 212 million people face paucity of food (hunger) in India.”

“We have a friend in Chicago, John Kapoor, who has made a lot of money. He sponsored a fact-finding team to India that conducted a feasibility study of the project in four underdeveloped states to find out whether it was possible to engage local communities, ensure community participation and create a network of stake-holders who could source essential food and related infrastructure for voluntary donation and distribution under an alternative food chain like the sub-Saharan models.”

Pitroda, who left for the US on Saturday, said he would return in July to “socialise the idea in the country with necessary modification for implementation by the end of the year”. “The government has several food programmes but can we really organise these programmes effectively,” he argued in justification of his “food bank project”.

Commenting on the necessity of food banks to ensure “sustained food security in India”, he said “while populations grow, food resources are continuously shrinking”. “Coupled with natural phenomenon like climate change and global warming, the security of food and other resources is a worrying question. One answer is the concept of food bank,” he said.

The Global Foodbanking Network, founded by Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos (Argentina), Food Banks Canada, Asociación Mexicana de Bancos de Alimentos (Mexico) and Feeding America (United States), shares food banking concepts and helps partners evaluate the feasibility and most effective business model for implementation in their country.

The organisation was founded in 2006 by four of the world’s leading national food bank networks. Its objective “is to fulfil the vision of John Van Hengel, who founded the world’s first food bank in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1967 and worked to promote and establish food banking around the world”. The latest World Food Programme report warns that more than 1.5 million children in India may suffer from malnourishment because of spiralling global food prices and 43 per cent of children under five years of age are underweight.

The report says the proportion of anaemic children has increased by six percent in the last six years with 11 states reporting 80 percent child anaemia. Figures say one in five people – about 45 per cent of Indian children – in developing countries are chronically “undernourished”. Food prices have increased by 83 percent in the last two years and 22 countries have enshrined the right to food in their Constitutions.

May 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm 1 comment

Balangir MP demand 8-year Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput (KBK) plan’s early approval

Following report is from The Pioneer:

Balangir MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo has demanded early approval of the eight-year, 2009-10 to 2016-17, perspective plan of Rs 4,500 crore for Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput (KBK) region, submitted to the Central Government by the State.

Participating in the Zero Hour discussion in the Parliament on Wednesday, MP Singh Deo raised the matter saying even today the region has many adverse human development indicators and is one of the most backward regions in the country.

A study by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has listed the eight KBK districts at the bottom of 69 most backwards districts, Singh Deo further argued.

The implementation of the revised long term action plan since1998-99 has resulted in a whopping 24.65 per cent decline in poverty from 87.1 per cent in 1999-2000 to 62.5 per cent.

With a view to sustaining the development and consolidating the gains of previous efforts, the Centre should approve soon the State-submitted perspective plan, Singh Deo demanded.

May 5, 2010 at 7:27 am Leave a comment

Readers’ reaction on an article published in Times of India about “Hunger deaths in Balangir district of Orissa”

Here is the link to the article and comments on it:

Readers’ opinions (3)

Post a Comment
shankar balangir 30/04/2010 at 11:00 pm
The politicians are solely responsible for this damn thing. these hell scoundrels hv done nothing except corrupting themslves. they dont fear God. and the hell political parties always work for own profit. people are lazy. go do some work instead eating the sand of the river.
Satyajit Balangir 30/04/2010 at 06:26 pm
Bloody Orissa govt. busy in developing only 60 miles corridor of cuttack to puri and criminally neglecting western orissa for last 7 decades..particularly Balangir..God will definitely punish these asshole politicians for deliberately killing these innocent people..Request NGO’s 2 plz help my people
Vighnesh Bhubaneswar 30/04/2010 at 06:23 pm
When will the administration do something….ironically the ruling party was busy organising a Bandh…??

May 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm 1 comment

How hunger kills hundreds in Balangir

Following is a TOI report:
BALANGIR: Enter any village under Belpada block of Balangir district and see how people battle for their existence. And how hunger can kill hundreds. Starving and emaciated, villagers often succumb to their circumstances.

The scenes in these villages will leave anyone speechless. Barring a few who own land, most villagers depend on nature. They collect forest produce for their sustenance.

TOI visited Bileimara village, 17 km from the block headquarters and met Bhaktaram Bariha, who is 65. For the past 10 years he has been bed-ridden. His spouse had died of some mysterious disease years ago. What is most pitiable is that he was forced to marry off his two daughters to the same man.

His son-in-law had promised to look after him and so Bariha gave away his second daughter, too, in marriage to this man. Today, all four stay together, the daughters look after the father and husband. Bariha does not get old age pension. Neither does he hold any entitlement card which can buy him subsidized rice at Rs two a kg.

Early morning all of them, barring Bariha, go to the forest to collect char, seeds and mahua flowers. They return home by evening. During their absence, Bariha’s granddaughter Srimati, who is five, looks after him. “I can’t remember any government official visiting this village. I was just a kid when someone came here and talked to some villagers and then vanished. We are fed up requesting the sarpanch to give us a BPL card or an IAY house. Every time he tells us that some procedure has to be followed and then the matter is forgotten,” said his daughter.

Sometime back, he developed a swelling on his neck. He sent his son to the nearby PHC to call a doctor, but he did not come. Finally, his son-in-law called a quack, whose medicines worsened his condition.

The life of Khatra Bariha, 65, of Rengtasil village, mirrors the despondency of his village. He lost his wife after two months of their marriage. A few years later, he lost his two sisters. He had lost his parents when he was young. A stark example of peripatetic life, Khatra constructed a thatched house on the outskirts of the village.

The house is closed from all sides. Every time he goes to the village to fetch water and other essential items, he breaks the thatched wall and then reshapes it. His only possessions are perhaps two bowls and some clothes. Khatra said he asked the sarpanch to get him a BPL card, but the sarpanch asked to him to prove his identity. He collects forest produce and exchanges them in village shops for rice and other items!

Bariha and Khatra are just metaphors of a larger canvas. For these 800-odd poverty-stricken villagers, the forest is a source of sustenance. Adhikar, a voluntary organization, has submitted a list to the government giving names of villagers who are living in this pathetic condition. But there has been no action yet. Jatin Patra, who surveyed the areas and prepared the list, said there’s been no development in the villages in the past 20 years. “Except improving the condition of some roads, there’s been no visible development,” he said.

Five of a family recently died of hunger in Chabripali village under Khaprakhol block. But even this painful incident failed to move the administration.

May 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

Breakdown in Balangir:families continues to suffer from hunger and poverty

Following is a report from http://www.hindustantimes.com and Print Edition:

As one of India’s 300 million officially poor people in one of its most impoverished districts, Kantamani Nag bought 25 kg of rice every month at Rs 2 per kg — five times cheaper than market rates — a fine example of the world’s most sprawling subsidised-foodgrain network.

Of the sprawling cradle-to-grave national anti-poverty effort on which the Centre will spend more than Rs 1.18 lakh crore in 2010-11 to create a more inclusive, just India, only the Public Distribution System worked for the Nags — sort of.

Nag (40) kept half the rice for his wife and three children. He sold the rest, creating what is now unofficially called “subsidised-rice income” for the poorest in this western corner of Orissa, where the official poverty line is Rs 356 per month, or about the cost of an appetiser in a metropolitan five-star hotel. When Nag, wizened beyond his years, sold his subsidised rice (sometimes tea leaves and soap as well), it sent him into a death spiral that appears to play out like this across Balangir:

The rice that isn’t sold typically lasts 10 days or less. The family works odd jobs or begs rest of the month. Weakened without enough food, they fall ill for about 100 days each year. They borrow money to pay medical expenses. To repay the loan, they join the 100,000 who migrate to brick kilns and stone mines in Andhra Pradesh.

When they return, they are weaker; many die, not by starvation but from chronic hunger and malnutrition.

Nag’s family ended up working in the kilns and mines for six months every year. These trips took a toll on their weakened bodies. They took more loans to meet medical expenses. The last loan was Rs 20,000 at 10 per cent interest.

“After a time they found it difficult to repay,” said Kasturi Nag (42), Kantamani’s sister-in-law, who narrated their tale on a warm spring day in their western Orissa village of Kurenbahali. “As a result, they started eating less food.”

Growing, gnawing hunger

Breakfast for the Nags was a handful of puffed rice and tea without milk. Lunch was pakhal, watery rice, with an onion.

Dinner wasn’t very different — on the few days the Nags had any.

Hindustan Times recorded similar patterns in journeys to 55 families in 27 villages in Balangir, where 62 per cent of all families officially live below the poverty line across 6,575 sq km, more than four times larger than the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

In interviews, many officials in Balangir confirmed that they were witnessing a deepening cycle of poverty.

It could explain how millions of hungry people are slipping through the cracks nationwide; how shoddy implementation imperils well-meaning, ambitious national anti-hunger programmes; how mothers become malnourished, giving birth to more malnourished children than anywhere else in the world.

Every year, 3,000 pregnant women are admitted to Balangir’s hospitals. “More than 50 per cent are anaemic, malnourished,” said Dr Purnachandra Sahu, Balangir’s chief district medical officer. Theoretically, help is available, through the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), the world’s largest programme for nutritional and school needs of children younger than six, administered through 1.4 million centres nationwide.

Though 80 million children are theoretically covered, one in two Indian children is malnourished, the world’s worst rate.

In Balangir, there are free vitamins, proteins and medicine available.

The Nags appear to have used these centres at some point. The evidence: Their children are alive (though their condition isn’t clear). For severely malnourished children, there’s Rs 500 to be had from the Chief Minister’s relief fund.

Sahu opened registers of Nutrition Day — held on the 15th of each month to provide dietary support to children — to show how about 3,000 malnourished children under age six are brought to Balangir’s 14 primary health centres every month. Sahu said 53 per cent of all children at his centres are malnourished.

In 2009, official ICDS figures say 87 children, or 0.04 per cent suffered the most severe malnourishment, grade IV, which means they needed urgent medical attention.

“The children are malnourished because in most cases the mothers are malnourished,” said Pratibha Mohanty, Balangir district’s social welfare officer.

The death rate of children under six is worsening. In 2006, 48 children died in every 1,000, rising to 52 the next two years; in 2009 it was 51, according to district health records. Balangir’s cycle of poverty continues into adulthood.

Most patients who come to Balangir hospitals today are anaemic, have gastrointestinal infections or are directly malnourished, according to district health records.

Stopping migration would certainly help already weak villagers. Theoretically, the Nags need not have migrated.

The world’s largest jobs-for-work programme, the National Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), is supposed to help people like them, assuring them 100 days of employment every year. The national NREGS budget for 2010-11: Rs 40,000 crore, more than a third the size of the defence budget.

Here in Kurenbahali, there were no NREGS jobs in 2009. Thus far, there’s no sign of work this year either. “People would not migrate if NREGS works are done regularly through the year,” said Paleswar Bhoi (35), a villager.

Slippery statistics

Instead of the required 100 days, Orissa has provided no more than 35 days of work each year. Across most of Balangir’s 1,792 villages, NREGS work isn’t available for a full month in a year, HT’s inquiries revealed.

Sanjay Kumar Habada, project director for the district rural development agency, has another set of figures to share: NREGS projects across Balangir employ more than 30,000 people, whom the administration pays “We pay them Rs 30 lakh every day,” said Habada. It isn’t much use to the poorest.

Of the 240,000 people registered under the NREGS in Balangir, only 476 (0.2 per cent) live below the poverty line, according to the website of the Union Ministry for Rural Development.

Like a number of Balangir villagers dying in their 30s and 40s — the exact numbers are uncertain — Nag died in February 2008, officially of fever. His wife Kulbati (32) lived for 18 months more before dying of tuberculosis.

The statistics will not record the chronic hunger or malnourishment that possibly made the Nags susceptible to disease.

Officially, they died natural deaths.

Theoretically, the Nags’ children should, even at this stage, have been able to claim help from the state.

When the sole earning member dies, the family is eligible for Rs 10,000 under the National Family Benefit Scheme, created after a Supreme Court order.

The grant is supposed to be paid within four weeks of death: More than 15,000 applications are pending with the Balangir district administration “over years”.

No one can say how many years.

Nag’s sister-in-law, Kasturi, has never heard of such a scheme.

“I gather that many people fail to provide death certificates,” said Balangir Collector Sailendra Dey. “I have instructed officials to help people in submitting the death certificates so that the amount can be disbursed to the beneficiaries.”

Local lawyer Bishnu Prasad Sharma said the grant needed only an authorisation from a local ward member or sarpanch.

Bisnu Sahu, a naib sarpanch (village headman), said he never knew he had such authority. “No one ever told me,” he said.

The district collector, the chief administrative official, implied this was indeed the case. “I have asked officials to make people aware of the scheme,” Dey said.

Back near the Nags’ abandoned hut, Kasturi explained why a severe pain in her leg didn’t allow her to join her husband, son and daughter-in-law in the desperate migration south.

Where are the surviving Nags, the two daughters and a son, aged between  seven and 16? Gone, said Kasturi, to that brick kiln in Andhra Pradesh.

For another generation, Balangir’s death cycle has started.

(The Hunger Project is a Hindustan Times effort to track, investigate and report every aspect of the struggle to rid India of hunger. You can read previous stories in this series at www.hindustantimes.com/hungerproject)

March 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

Balangir’s Bariha family starvation deaths: Tribal leaders demand action against officials

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

Hundreds of tribal’s of Balangir, Kalahandi, Sonepur, Boudh and other nearby districts, led by tribal leaders of Balangir Zilla Adivasi Kalyan Sangha Brajakishore Singhbhoi, Niranja Bisi and others, once again marched through the town on Thursday.

The tribals danced and brandished their traditional arms demanding redressal of their grievances. The tribal’s submitted a memorandum to the Governor through the district administration. Besides, the fake certificates issue, this time, another issue that come to fore, was the demand for action against the officials who were responsible for the alleged starvation death of five members of Jhintu Bariha family in Chabirpaili village of Khaprakhol block recently

According to the memorandum submitted by Zilla Adivasi Kalyan Sangh, the officials responsible for starvation deaths of five members of Jhintu Barih family should be booked under SC, ST Prevention of Atrocity Rules 1995.

Rejecting the constitution of the State-level scrutiny committee and Vigilance cell opened to inquire into the fake caste certificate issue, all fake caste certificates should be cancelled as per the Orissa Caste Certificate for SC, ST Rule1980.

More over all those fake tribal employees’ political representatives and students, should be booked under Section 3 of the prevention of atrocity for SC/ST Act 1989, they demanded.

The stay order granted in favour of fake tribal employees by the Odisha High Court may be vacated and the court may be approached to finalise the case with in two months as per the decision of Supreme Court, pointed out the memorandum further.

Moreover the non ST persons possessing title Dora who belongs to the caste Telenga which is recognised by Government of Odisha vide resolution no 26118ORC1/96W as ST are non ST and those fraudulently obtained certificate of Kondadora(ST) should be cancelled

Similarly, those persons belonging to caste Kului noni ST, procuring the Schedule Tribe certificate in disguise by false pretension of Kulis(ST). All the ST certificates issued in favour of KULI castes should be cancelled as per the letter issued by Government of India.

While other communities are allowed to carry arms why tribals would be barred from carrying it, they questioned. Tribals are different people who have their own tradition, custom and culture any attempt to interfere there would not be tolerated, said Niranjan Bisi Secretary of Zilla Adivasi Kalyan Sangh. The Sikhya Sahayaks posts should be filled up from among the candidates of the district, mentions the memorandum further.

January 29, 2010 at 9:29 pm 1 comment

Odisha govt. benefits still elude Jhintu Bariha’s Chhabripali village in Balangir district

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

Even though it has already been more than three months since the death of Jhintu Bariha and his family members of Chhabripali under Khaprakhol block due to alleged starvation, politicians visiting the village are surprised to find that the condition of the village is yet to improve and the villagers are languishing in a sorry state.

Closely after the visit of Odisha Kisan Khet Mazdoor Congress president Amiya Patnaik to Chhabripali village in the first week of January, president of State Mahila Congress Asima Mahananda visited the village.

It is unfortunate that five members of the Jhintu Bariha family died of starvation, she told mediapersons on the evening of January 20 after visiting the village. The district administration after remaining active for 24 hours seems to have come to a standstill here, she alleged further. Even today Champe Bariah, the old father of Jhintu Bariah, is without a house. He should be given a house under the Indira Awas Yojana, she urged.

Moreover the lone surviving member of the family, Ramprasad Bariha’s condition is also not satisfactory. I would take up his case with Achyuta Samanta of Kalinga Institute of Social Service (KISS) and see that he is enrolled there, she said further.

Even today many women are suffering from anemic conditions. Ambika Bariaha who has given birth to a child is unable to feed his one-and-a-half month old child as she is suffering from anemia. The Asha Karmee is not functioning there properly, she alleged further. Another woman Khitisuta Bariha also died three months after giving birth to a child.

Even today, while as many as 40 villagers are waiting to be included in the APL list, 70 villagers are awaiting BPL list and as many as 70 women are waiting to be enrolled for widow pension, she claimed further. The village level workers (VLW) are not functioning properly and they are misbehaving the poor villagers, she alleged.

Most of the Central Government programmes like NREGS and Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana are not reaching them as lack of electricity and delay in payment to labourers are common, she alleged further. The Mahila Congress will give ‘special attention’ to the village in order to ensure that benefits of the development reach the village properly, she assured. However she parried the question why the district Congress committee is almost silent on this issue and why it took almost a month for the State Congress leaders to visit the village.

January 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm 1 comment

Starvation still haunts Kalahandi and Balangir area of Orissa, India

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.

December 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm 1 comment

Starvation kills 5 of a family in Balangir, Orissa, India

Following is a report from Times of India:
When Minzi Bariha (65) breathed her last on Thursday, she became the fifth member of her family to have died within the last three
months. Impoverished and emaciated, this poor tribal family in Khaparakhol block of Bolangir district in Orissa has lost one member after another allegedly due to starvation, malnutrition and diseases and thereby exposing the continued vulnerability of distressed people in the infamous Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region to hunger and deprivation.

Minzi died in the district headquarters hospital in Bolangir after waging an unsuccessful battle for survival. Doctors who attended on her reported to have attributed her death to starvation, malnourishment and lack of healthcare. The latest deaths mean the family now has just two surviving members: Minzi’s husband Champeswar (72) and grandson Ramaprasad (7).

The dance of death, incidentally, started in the Bariha household, native of Chabiripalli hamlet under Bhanpur gram panchayat in the foothills of the mineral-rich Gandhamardan hill, on September 6. The first to perish was the youngest member of the family, a seven-month-old girl. The next day Sibaprasad (5) died. Two days later the kids’ mother Bimala, too, passed away.

The trio, according to those in the know, had succumbed to malnutrition and diseases from months of hunger. But the administration, for obvious reasons, refuses to admit that starvation had led to the deaths. On October 7, Bimala’s widower Jhintu, too, vomited blood and died.

The family’s finances had deteriorated after the prime breadearner lost a limb in an accident.

Following are some related articles:

December 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

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