Rajasthan govt dubs reports on starvation deaths baseless

DH News Service

JAIPUR:In a strong rebuttal to media reports on starvation deaths and sale of tribal girls in Kotda tehsil of Udaipur district in Rajasthan, the state government has termed the reports as totally baseless and a media hype generated by some NGOs to woo foreign assistance. The state government has released the clarification after getting a detailed report from the district collector. It maintains that depiction of starvation deaths by some newspapers was not true. Kotda, it said, was one of the few tehsils in the state, where at least one member from all the 17,000 below-poverty-line families has been employed under the the drought relief works this year.

State Relief Secretary Ram Lubhaya clarified at a press conference on Saturday last that the media reports were baseless. He alleged it was a media hype created by some NGOs trying to get funds from overseas agencies. Without referring to any voluntary organisation, he said since the focus of all the international funding agencies is on earthquake relief in Gujarat, some NGOs dependent on foreign assistance are facing a crisis. The propaganda only indicates their desperate need for overseas funds.

Referring to allegation that tribals were "eating leaves" for lack of food, Mr Ram Lubhaya said this was not unusual in tribal districts where Puwad leaves and date stems were traditionally used as vegetables. "Neither Babu Lal of Khampawati ate Puwad leaves due to starvation nor Ms Shanti of Naibas committed suicide. Shanti's family had been helped by a philanthropic society Saccha Dera in May," he said.

He challenged that even if a single starvation death is proved, he is ready to suffer any consequences and clarified that all allegations of starvation deaths were carefully examined by the district administration. Not a single "starvation death" was clinically proved in the tehsil and media reports of sale of tribal girls were also disproved. The issue of sale of tribal girls was raised in the state assembly in April. Probe disproved it and even BJP leader Gulab Chand Kataria had dismissed the allegations.

The relief secretary wondered why only Kotda was being highlighted when the whole state was reeling under drought. He pointed out that Kotda was in a much better position as compared to other places as several below-poverty-line families there had been given relief by the government.

Many localites there have benefited under Antyodaya, Annapurna and subsidy schemes while Dera Saccha Sauda, a voluntary organisation, has distributed almost 25,000 quintal fodder and 12,000 quintal foodgrain in the tehsil.

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Referred by: Mukandan CM
Published on: July 6, 2001
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