Jharkhand: Panel recommends improving Body-Mass Index to check starvation deaths

Also suggests amending eligibility criteria for issuing a ration card and verification of its beneficiaries on the lines of voter list.

Published: 04th September 2018 10:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2018 10:22 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

RANCHI: The nine-member committee, formed by the state government to define parameters by which starvation deaths may be established officially and suggest measures to minimize such deaths in Jharkhand, has made suggestions to improve Body-Mass Index (BMI) by identifying people having less than the standard parameters and act immediately on them.

The panel also recommends getting the list of ration card beneficiaries revised on the lines of electoral roll and make changes accordingly. The committee, headed by Food Director Sunil Kumar Sinha, was formed on March 5 this year to submit a report after looking into the socio-economic aspect of alleged starvation deaths by checking the nutrition level of the family and the individuals has finally been completed and will be submitted to the State Government very soon.

According to report, a copy of which is available with the New Indian Express, the State Government should provide proper treatment to the people who are found more vulnerable to starvation deaths identified on the basis of BMI.

"A list of those persons having less than 16 BMI must be prepared and provided proper treatment by the State Government," said a member of the nine-member panel formed by the State Government requesting anonymity.

The district administration must also intervene and provided proper treatment to such people after getting a list prepared by the Gram Panchayat or Municipal bodies, the report stated. The report further stated that special attention must be given to the areas having more than 8 per cent children suffering from malnutrition and every individual of that very area must undergo the BMI test followed by required action.

State Government must also focus on primitive tribes or families facing acute financial crisis or single men, women, physically challenged, deserted women or anybody suffering from severe incurable disease etc. by improving its intelligence network. "Representatives of local self-government, both in the urban and rural areas must be alerted that they must inform the district administration if they find anybody suffering from financial crisis or starvation like situation in their areas so that action could be taken on time,' said the official.

In addition to that, the panel has also suggested to get the ration card revised as being done in case of electoral list across the Country so that those who actually do not qualify for getting a ration card, gets removed from the list creating a space for those who actually needed it desperately but are still deprived from the benefits of Public Distribution System."

It also requires some amendments so that changes could be made in the criteria for possessing a ration card. The entire Ration Card system also needs some changes as per the requirement so that the beneficiary does not have to face any problem in getting food grains. The panel has also made postmortem mandatory in case of alleged starvation death with proper videography of the entire process.

It also has made recording written statement compulsory of family members, Mukhia, Pradhan, Chowkidar and neighbor's in case of such deaths. As per records provided by the Right to Food Campaign in Jharkhand, more than a dozen alleged starvation deaths took place in the last one year, since September 2017. Interestingly, seven of those deaths were allegedly due to Aadhaar-related failures which contributed to the starvation of the victims.

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