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Rights panel seeks Orissa’s response to hunger deaths

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Taking cognisance of a media report on its own, the National Human Rights Commission Thursday asked the Orissa government to furnish a report on the hunger deaths in Balanagir district within four weeks.

‘Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report alleging that chronic hunger has led to the death of fifty people in Balangir district in Orissa, the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the chief Secretary, government of Orissa, calling for his report within four weeks,’ the commission said in statement.

The commission is also contemplating to send its team to Balangir district to ascertain the ground realities.

‘The report published in a leading English daily alleged that in the last two years about 300 children were orphaned following death of their parents due to chronic hunger and prolonged malnourishment in the five blocks of the district located in the dreaded Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput belt of Orissa.’

The commission, in its notice, observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of human right violation of the victims.

It has asked the chief secretary of the state to inform the commission of the details of people reported to have died along with the reasons, details of deceased who had been provided with public distribution system (PDS) facilities under ‘Antyodaya’ (poorest of the poor) scheme, how many families in Balangir have been provided with ration cards facilities under the below poverty line (BPL) and Antyodaya scheme and what measures have been taken by the administration to strengthen the PDS and health care in the district.

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