BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued reminder to the Chief Secretary after he failed to file his reply to a notice served on him on a petition highlighting plight of underweight and malnourished children in the State.The rights panel has asked the Chief Secretary to submit a composite report within four weeks positively. Acting on a petition by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, NHRC had earlier directed the State Government to respond to the notice by August 11.
Stating that children in rural Odisha and belonging to poor families are subjected to negligence, Tripathy alleged that around 50,000 of over 10 lakh under-weight children are malnourished. “While 37.5 per cent children are suffering from malnutrition, it is way higher in the backward tribal districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh and Keonjhar,” he said in the petition filed in 2016.
The petitioner contended that many malnutrition deaths go unreported and those come to the fore through media reports. Unfortunately, district administrations are not aware of the state of affairs in many remote villages where maternal and children care is done only in pen and paper.
Citing cases from several districts with regard to chronic hunger and malnutrition, Tripathy questioned efficiency of the Government mechanism to curb the rising trend. The worst affected are children from PTGs including Bonda, Juanga and Mankidia. The programmes launched by the Government and NGOs hardly come to their rescue as those do not take into consideration the ground realities and socio-cultural practices of the communities, he pointed out.
Earlier, NHRC had also sought reports from districts concerned. The reports submitted by the authorities were challenged by the petitioner in his rejoinder which stated that the efforts initiated by the State Government are insufficient and a lot needs to be done for providing basic necessities for a dignified life of the residents of the affected districts.