PUCL Bulletin, July 2004

Chhattisgarh PUCL

Investigation report of hunger deaths in Dantewada and Bastar districts

After reading the newspaper reports of the deaths due to various illnesses occurring in village Burgum and village Hirpal among malnourished people from scheduled tribe communities, a three member investigative team of the Chhattisgarh PUCL went to Dantewada. The members of the team were Sharmila Sarkar, Makhan Arle, and Shankar. In Dantewada, Linguram and Sukhdev of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada joined the team, and on 16, 17 & 18 March, visited Burgum (block Kuakonda) Hirpal (block Geedam) both in district Dantewada, as well as Burgum-Mutanpal (block Killepal) in district Bastar.

Main findings

  • In the villages we visited, there is no effective system of food security. There is no effective infrastructure for agricultural production, and neither is there any other source of employment. Therefore, people don’t have the means to obtain even their minimum food requirements. Consequently, a large proportion of the population is the victim of severe malnutrition.
  • Fifty-seven years after independence and amidst loud praises of the feel good factor, the people of Bastar do not have access to safe and potable drinking water. Even the water from hand-pumps is contaminated, and foul. Village people are forced to obtain water from small holes dug in riverbeds. Much illness is due to lack of access to clean water.
  • Doctors and paramedical workers are deployed in the villages only on paper. They do not go to the people. Their behavior is very un-sympathetic, and often insulting. Their only concern is with their salaries. Some sources suggested that in the areas under Naxalite influence, health personnel are reluctant to go because if they stay in these areas, they are suspected by the police of sympathizing with the Naxalites.

Our demands and future plans:

  1. All the people living in the villages of the three districts of Bastar division – Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada – should be supplied rice at Rs 3/- per kilogram as under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana. All families without discrimination should be issued tokens or coupons – in addition to their ration cards and should be enabled to get access to rice and other grains on this basis.
  2. The right to adequate food for all families and all individuals should be ensured, and village communities should be requested to monitor that no one goes hungry.
  3. Anganwadi feeding & Middle School feeding programmes should be strictly enforced.
  4. Training and deployment of health personnel of local origin should be encouraged as far as possible.
  5. Measures to ensure access to safe & potable water for the entire rural population should be ensured to the maximum possible extent.
  6. Effective village level monitoring of all service programmes such as health care, food security & supply. Anganwadi feeding & midday meal should be ensured. The Mitanin programme should be the basis of such a system.
  7. PUCL Chhattisgarh, together with the Chhattisgarh Jan Swasthya Abhiyan will carry out comprehensive nutrition surveys in all villages studied in this report.
  8. At the national level, a PUCL writ petition in the Supreme Court on the rights to food is currently pending. And interim orders addressed to all states of the Indian Union including Chhattisgarh, have been issued from time to time to ensure the right to food to the people of India. In Chhattisgarh, we have noted the government is clearly in contempt of these interim orders of the Supreme Court. The Chhattisgarh PUCL, together with the right to food campaign will work to ensure the food security of the people. At the same time, we will appeal to the Commission appointed by the Supreme Court to come to Bastar & evaluate the situation for themselves.

Villages visited and details of deaths during the last one month is these villages:
Village – Burgum
Block – Kuakonda, District Dantewada, distance from block headquarter: 70 K.M.
Date of visit – 16 March 2004
Gram Panchayat: Burgum + Pujaripara
Population: 1125
Total Family: 350
Sarpanch: Shri Laxman
Secretary: Shri Nandakumar
Location of village (Para): Nandapara, Chirapara, Bujhapara, Raminpara, Permapara, Kwachipara, Dorapara, Gayatapara, Dubkapara

List of dead people
Bhima (7 years), Dewa (40-45 years): Father is in Jail, two elder sisters and one brother among 15-16 years; Bidde (1.5 Year); Podiya (35 years); Sunil; Vinay Kumar; Devmati; Lassi; Dewa; Kosa; Esamti; Buddhu Boriram; Anda (55 years), Pandu
Village – Hirpal
Block Geedam, District Dantewada
Total Population: 578
Total Family: 100
Dependent village: Balengpal
Secretary: Pilsay
Sarpanch: Laxman (lives in Barsur)
Location of village (Para): Schoolpara, Balaingpara, Sarpanch Para
Anganwadi: 1
Primary School: 1
Agriculture: Un-irrigated (all villagers)
Landless: Belaram (he cooks food for the Mid day meal in the village. 8 members in his family and his earnings 300 per month for only 10 months)

Deaths – 1 to 5 March, 2004
Name   Sex       Father/Husband   Location (Para)

   Sukki (60 years)   F         Hidma       School Para

   Pidde Bai (20 years)   F      Laxman       Sarpanch Para

   Sunita (9 Months)    F      Sukman   School Para

   Bachchi (12 days)   F      Badka   Sarpanch Para

   Mangli (60 years)   F      Balengpal

Village – Burgum and Mutanpal  

Block Killepal (Bastanar), District Bastar

Date of visit – 18 March 2004

Dependent village:   Burgum

Population:   970, (Women 440)

Total Family:   144

Locations of Village:   Patel Para, Gunrupara, Kawdipadar, and Sakudapara

List of Deaths:

Name        Sex   Husband/Father    Other Information

Diwar (2 years)      F   Sannu (35 years)   Village- Kawdipadar

Pintu (2 years)      M   Maso (26 years)   Ill with Rash for two weeks               died on 9 March

Mange (40 years)      F   Podla (42 years)   Ill with Fever and
             Stomachache for 4 days

Raju (40 years)      M   Aitu    Ill with Rash died on 14                 March

Machi (2 years)      F      Ill with Rash died at end of               January.

Gonchand (1 year)      M   Chirango (30 years)   Ill with Vomiting died on 20              January

Dhaniram (7 years)      M   Suklo    Ill with Fever and died
             January end

Dole (60 years)      M   Uncle of Suklo   Died at January end

Ayati (35 years)      F   Manglu   Ill with Vomiting and loose
             stools for two days before

Deaths – Mutanpal Village

   Name      Sex   Husband/Father    Other Information

   Sappe (50 Years)      F   Buddhu   Death from fever

   Jagri (45 years)      F   Death from fever

   Laxmi (60 years)      F   Ayati  

   Payke (70 Years)      F   Bose    Ill with pain of stomach and chest, death from blood vomiting


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