After 7 deaths Bengal govt to provide nutritious food to Sabars Lodhas

    Kolkata, Dec 5 (PTI) The West Bengal government has
decided to distribute nutritious food material at subsidised rates to members of the Sabar and Lodha communities in the state, an official said Wednesday.
    The move comes after reports last month said that seven
people of the Sabar community have died due to starvation in Jangalmahal region of Jhargram district.
    People belonging to the two communities, who already
get rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kg each, would now receive
pulses and soyabean at reduced prices under a proposed
scheme through the public distribution system, a senior official at the state secretariat told PTI.
    The Sabars belong to the Munda ethnic group and is a de-notified tribe. Both the communities reside mostly in West Midnapore district and parts of Jhargram.
    The official said the food and supplies department
would give extra emphasis on the quality of the food
distributed to the two communities.
    The department would soon employ officers who would
visit the areas where the two communities live and review
their condition, he said.
    "Our officers will take into consideration their earnings and its mode. Depending on the reports, we will take up programmes to raise the standard of their lives," he said.
    Secretariat sources said that as per directives of the Chief Minister's Office, its has also been decided that special health camps will be opened in areas inhabited by the two communities.
    However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had refuted the alleged starvation death reports as "fabricated", saying that the deaths either happened due to "age-related ailments" or "excessive liquor consumption".
    "People have died in Jangalmahal due to excessive
consumption of liquor or age-related ailments. While two
people have died of illness and old age, others have died due
to liver problems caused by excessive consumption of liquor,"
she had said.
    Banerjee had also said the state government provides
food grain to "every poor person" in the state.
    "The reports that people from Sabar community have
died due to starvation is absolutely false and fabricated. No
one has died in Bengal due to starvation. We provide free rice
and wheat to each and every poor person in this state from
the hills in the north to Jangalmahal in the south," she had stated.
    The Jangalmahal is a tribal area which is spread across Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore districts
of West Bengal and were once hit by Maoist violence.
    Besides West Bengal, the Sabar community is found in
Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, whereas the Lodhas are found in Odisha. PTI SCH MM KK SOM SOM