BHUBANESWAR: The state government dismissed allegations of starvation death of a 55-year-old woman of Balangir district by maintaining that she died because of prolonged illness.
In his statement to the house on the issue today as per the direction of Speaker Niranjan Pujari, revenue and disaster management minister Bijoyshree Routray said the woman was paralytic for years, used to receive BPL benefits from PDS and was looked after by her neighbours.
However, speaking on the matter outside the house, leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra rejected government stand and asked how she was collecting BPL rice from PDS outlets if she was paralytic. The assembly yesterday witnessed noisy scenes over the issue forcing the Speaker to adjoun the house several times.
The minister said information received from the Balangir district collector showed that the death of Sua Dei Nag of Gutupalli village was not due to starvation but because of prolonged illness.
The woman, a widow, was paralytic for the last 8 to 9 years and was bed-ridden for two years, Routray said adding her only son Kalindi Nag had left the village with his family and their whereabouts were not known.
While Sua Dei received widow pension of ` 300 till October 2015 and 25 kg BPL rice up to November 17 this year, she was being looked after by neighbours, he said.
She had been provided house under Indira Awas Yojana where she was residing, the minister said. She died on December 7 and her last rites were performed the next day, he said adding Balangir Tehsildar and BDO have conducted a joint enquiry into the incident.
As no post-mortem was done, how the BJD government can confirm that it was not a case of starvation, the leader of the Opposition asked and alleged that post-mortem was not done to suppress the cause of her death.
The assistant BDO had gone to the village to enquire the matter last night and the government misled the house by saying the Tehsildar and the BDO had gone there, he said.
The assistant BDO recorded the statement of villagers by using lights of mobile phone as there is no electricity in the village, the Congress leader said.
Those who recorded their statements were pressurised by the district administration to say that it is not a case of starvation, he said.