Swaminathan dismayed by starvation deaths

Nagpur, July 9 (IANS) Agro-scientist M.S. Swaminathan has expressed dismay over the starvation deaths in India despite the availability of a very large food grain reserve with the government.

“I am really sorry that starvation deaths are taking place, inspite of a very large food grain reserve with our government. I am glad you are highlighting the tragic nature of this dilemma of co-existence of grain mountains and hungry millions,” Swaminathan said in a communication to Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari which was received here on Thursday.

Known as the Indian Father of the Green Revolution, Chennai-based Swaminathan, 89, is the founder-chairman and chief mentor of the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology. He has also headed the National Farmers Commission in the past when he prepared several reports on the issues of farmers, agrarian crises and related subjects.

His response followed news of the Bombay High Court-Nagpur Bench serving notice to Maharashtra government seeking its reply to the starvation death of a Dalit widow reported from Gondiya tribal belt.

A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain on Wednesday issued the orders directing the principal secretary, food and civil supplies department to file a detailed affidavit within two weeks.

The court orders came in a public interest litigation filed by Tiwari alleging failure of the state government in implementing the NFS Act which led to a starvation death in the backward Gondiya district of the state.

Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children, including one who is visually disabled, allegedly died due to starvation.

Maharashtra has witnessed more than 200,000 farmers’ suicides in a decade, of which 70 percent have been from 11 districts of Vidarbha region. Though rich in minerals, coal, forests and mountains, this region has remained underdeveloped because of its continuous dominance by the political leadership from the other parts of the state, especially Western Maharashtra.

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