At Least 15 People Died Due To Starvation In Jharkhand In The Last One Year: Right To Food Campaign
Almost 40% children under the age of five in Jharkhand are malnourished.
On Friday, the Right to Food Campaign issued a statement voicing concerns over the increasing number of starvation deaths in Jharkhand. It also put forward demands and suggestions for the state government to help stop such deaths.
In its statement, the foundation said that in Jharkhand, close to 40% of all children under the age of five are malnourished. In 2017, at least 15 people – six Adivasis, four Dalits and five individuals from backward castes – died of hunger. All of the deceased were denied social security pensions or rations from public distribution system (PDS).
Five of these families didn’t possess a ration card and five others “faced sustained issues with Aadhaar-based biometric authentication, leading to denial of rations”, The Wire. Ten of the deaths can be attributed to Aadhaar related issues.
The statement also says that the Jharkhand government has not “initiated any action to stop the persistent starvation deaths in the state.”
Following are the demands put forth by Right to Food Campaign as reported by The Wire:
- Aadhaar should not be mandatory for any welfare scheme and Aadhaar-based biometric authentication should be discontinued.
- The list of families whose ration cards were cancelled and those whose names were struck of pension lists for not linking their Aadhaar, should be made public immediately and also re-start their rations and pensions with immediate effect.
- The Public Distribution System should be made universal in rural areas, and PVTG families and single women should be given Antyodaya cards.
- Private ration dealers should be removed immediately and replaced with gram panchayat/women’s organisations.
- To improve the situation of nutrition in the state, pulses and edible oil should be made available at affordable rates in the Public Distribution System.
- The maternity benefit entitlement should be increased from Rs 5000 (under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana) to R. 6000 as mandated in the National Food Security Act. It should also not be restricted only to the first child.
- All pregnant and lactating women should be given five eggs per week.
- All children should be given five eggs per week in Anganwadis and Midday meals.
- Anganwadis should be established in all hamlets of the state. Education system in Anganwadis to be strengthened. And children to be served hot-cooked food instead of ready-to-eat food.
- All elderly, widow, and disabled persons in the state should be given social security pension of at least Rs 2000/month on time.
- Jharkhand’s MGNREGA wage rate should be increased to at least the state’s minimum wage.
- All households to be given right to 200 days of work per year in MGNREGA.
- All MGNREGA workers to be paid within 15 days under any circumstances.