Bhubaneswar, Dec. 7: The Odisha government today claimed that no starvation death had taken place in Odisha during the last four years.
It also maintained that adequate steps were being taken to provide food materials to the poor and needy through various welfare schemes.
Moving an adjournment motion in the state Assembly, the Opposition members alleged that the government was trying to hide facts related to starvation deaths to avoid controversy. More than 400 deaths were reported in the past, they said.
While the maximum number of starvation deaths (50) was reported in the mineral-rich Keonjhar district, 45 cases had taken place in Khurda, 40 in Kalahandi, 33 in Ganjam, 31 in Baragarh, 27 in Jajpur and 20 in Nuapada district.
Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said: “Though starvation deaths have been reported in the state, the government is trying to hide information to avoid political controversy. Even the government is not prepared to admit sale of children in the state.”
Later, expressing dissatisfaction over the government’s reply on the issue of starvation deaths, the Opposition Congress members staged a walk out .
Replying to the debate, state revenue minister Surjya Narayan Patro said: “Thirty cases of starvation deaths and one case of child sale have been reported in the last four years. After investigation, the government came to know that not a single person died owing to want of food. The reported sale of child was also false and baseless.”
Listing out steps taken to strengthen food security, the minister said: “We have introduced the management information system to gather inputs on food stock across the state. The state government is regularly getting necessary feedback in this regard.”
The minister also said that the government had empowered various functionaries to distribute food materials to the needy.
While the sarpanch is empowered to provide foods to the needy at a stretch for 10 days, the block development officer and district collector can do it for 45 days and 120 days, respectively.
Similarly in municipal areas, the state government has empowered the mayor to provide food to the needy for 10 days.
“The state government has already introduced a number of schemes including rice at Rs 2 per kg and other welfare measurers to check starvation cases,” Patro said.