RANCHI: Rattled by a series of alleged starvation deaths across the state last year, the Jharkhand government has now taken the onus of “defining” hunger deaths. Saryu Rai, state minister for food, civil supplies, public distribution and consumer affairs, issued orders on Monday for the formation of a committee to define hunger deaths.
Rai wrote to his departmental secretary, Amitabh Kaushal, to draft a definition based on several socioeconomic parameters. Vinay Kumar Rai, joint secretary in the food and civil supplies department, told TOI: “The note for the formation of a committee was sent to the minister a few weeks ago.”
A statement issued by Rai’s office said: “A committee has been formed under state food director Sunil Kumar Sinha for creation of a protocol that will clearly define hunger deaths in Jharkhand.”
The first alleged starvation death was that of 11-year-old Santoshi in September. Premani Kunwar, a 64-year-old widow, died on Dec 1, with activists saying
she starved to death. Two more deaths followed.
Activists blamed the deaths on the lacunae in the Jharkhand government’s 2017 effort to link ration cards with Aadhaar numbers, a decision that led to the cancellation of 11 lakh ration cards in the state.
District authorities claimed these deaths occurred due to illnesses.