Rights panel concerned over farmers’ suicides in Orissa

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BHUBANESWAR/NEW DELHI - The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday expressed concern over the increasing cases of starvation deaths and farmers’ suicides in Orissa and gave a list of recommendations to the state government for the overall improvement in the human rights situation.

“The commission has received complaints of starvation deaths and farmers’ suicides in the backward KBK (Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput) region and has asked the state to take appropriate measures,” NHRC chairperson K.G. Balakrishnan said.

Addressing a press conference after the completion of the two-day camp sitting of the commission here, he said the apex watchdog on human rights has asked the state to submit action taken reports on the matter.

“We will continue to monitor the situation until they submit a final report,” he said.

Commission member Satyabrata Pal said the KBK region has many problems and the panel was looking at the larger issue.

Describing the hunger deaths as terrible, he said the commission wants to ensure that relief is provided to the survivors.

“Even after years of monitoring, there is still strong evidence of chronic malnutrition in KBK districts and that is the issue which we are focusing,” he said.

The commission has directed the state government to depute an officer to be present on March 21 in New Delhi with the status of development and welfare measures undertaken in KBK region. The details will pertain to public distribution system, health, and special security schemes in the area.

The commission which conducted hearing of about 62 cases along with 400 linked cases during the camp also expressed serious concern on the food security of the poor in the state who have been left out of the below poverty line (BPL) list.

It also directed the state government to send a detailed report on the issue of bogus ration cards particularly in the KBK region and action taken against the corrupt officials.

The hearing was attended by Orissa’a chief secretary, principle secretaries and other state officials.

The commission also asked the state government to submit a detailed report on the Kandhamal violence and a contingency plan to deal with such situations in the future.

Kandhamal, about 200 km from Bhubaneswar, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides in his ashram Aug 23, 2008.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs, who accused Christians for killing Saraswati, although police had blamed the Maoists.

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