The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hunger zone off Kalam itinerary

Jaipur, Dec. 20: The Rajasthan government heaved a sigh of relief after President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam decided to drop Baran district from his itinerary during his visit to the state beginning December 22.

Baran has been in the news over starvation death of tribals. At least 20 people, including 11 children, belonging to the Saharia community have reportedly died of hunger in the district. The state government, however, denied it, saying the deaths were due to malnutrition and other related diseases.

Last month, during the finalisation of the President’s itinerary, Rashtrapati Bhavan had sought information about the location of Baran district, making the state administration jittery.

Kalam was advised to include the tribal belt of Udaipur division instead of Baran, which adjoins Kota on the Madhya Pradesh border and is about 350 km from here. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot had personally contacted Rashtrapati Bhavan.

According to official sources, the final itinerary includes Jaipur, Udaipur and the desert districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer.

The President will address a seminar in Jaipur at the Bhagwan Mahavir Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.

In Udaipur, he will go to a boys’ hostel in a tribal area, inspect drought relief operations and interact with relief beneficiaries. He will visit Rajiv Gandhi Paathshala, a school that has organised rural development programmes. The trip was originally scheduled for two-and-a-half days, but according to the final programme, the President will be in Rajasthan for one-and-a-half days.

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