What starvation deaths did to an Orissa boy

Little Surendra Majhi doesn’t quite know what home is. Nobody, it seems, wants to give him shelter for very long.

He was only a year old when seven members of his family, including his mother, died in the infamous mango kernel starvation deaths in southern Orissa Nov 13, 2001. Since then he has been shunted back and forth from his home to orphanages.

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Indian tsunami orphans face uncertain future

Pattinacheri (Tamil Nadu): Of all those left behind helpless by the tsunami attack that left behind a swathe of death and destruction, the orphaned girls in Tamil Nadu, it seems, are the worst affected. Fifteen year-old Mahalaxmi is one of the unfortunate, who after having lost her father in childhood now has to go through the trauma of losing her mother And how cruel could fate be that her sister Sellama’s fianci was washed away on the fateful day? Facing an uncertain future, both the sisters live in a makeshift hut, with the help of neighbours. “We did not have a father and our mother took care of us. But now we have even lost her. I don’t know what will we do now, live or die,” said Sellamma. Mahalaxmi is now a school drop out. “Now it is very difficult for us to continue our education because we have lost everything,” she said. Sellamma and Mahalaxmi are among thousands of orphans living a life without a secured future. The government has given 500,000 rupees for children, orphaned by the tsunami but in most of the cases, the money has not reached the needy. At least 16,000 people were killed in tsunami in India, nearly half of them in Tamil Nadu alone.

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Adivasis driven to bondage and starvation

A good part of the infrastructure for the new economy is built by migrant labourers, a large number of them adivasis. But they themselves are still vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Combat Law, Vol. 2, Issue 5 – The second half of the last decade has seen exponential and unprecedented growth in adivasi participation in the migrant labour market. While there is evidence of adivasi participation in migrant labour markets over the last four decades, from the nineties onwards the phenomena has risen to levels that can only be termed as a crisis of enormous proportions.

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Government evolves info system to check hunger deaths

With the Supreme Court pulling up the State Government for its poor track record in implementation of food and employment schemes, the State Government has devised management information system (MIS) for tracking starvation and malnutrition cases and action taken at every level of the administration.

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Death looms large over Orissa villages

Notwithstanding the Orissa Government’s claim that there were no starvation deaths in Kashipur block, the spectre of death looms large over far-flung villages in this remote hill- locked area of Rayagada district.

It is debatable whether the 19 deaths were due to starvation or consumption of contaminated food. But the fact remains that despite the Government’s intervention during the last few days to mitigate the miseries of the people, acute poverty and hunger had been driving them to eating anything.

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Orissa floods situation report: 18 Aug, 2001

[ Originally posted on August 18th, 2001 ]

The water level in Batarani river system is rising due to heavy rainfall in some parts of the coastal districts. Fresh warning for evacuation has been issued to Bhadrak and Jajpur district. Most of the areas in these districts are now submerged in water. As there was no time to repair the breaches, the fresh attempt to Kharif paddy is frustrating and in some areas it is unlikely to revive.

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Agony and Apothy

India’s challenge in moderating the consequences of natural disasters has come under yet another serious test in Orissa, which has been a continued victim of nature’s fury. The magnitude of the toll – over 150 fatalities and lakhs of displaced – has not merely exposed the low level of preparedness on the part of the administration; it is reflective of the enormity of the task at hand. That flood control and relief operations continue to be carried out as ad hoc responses to natural phenomena that now have a fair degree of predictability is a serious malady that should be corrected. It is not the case that there has been a lack of technical inputs or well-intentioned recommendations encompassing the entire gamut of floods and their consequences on human habitations. It is just that these have either been entangled in controversies or relegated to oblivion. In addition are the various leakages that are present in the existing system of providing relief that thwart the already constrained operations by State administrations. That more than 100 villages in five districts of Orissa continue to remain marooned reflects the ineffectiveness of the present operations and the inability of the existing system to provide timely succour. If the continued distress faced by the affected in Orissa is reflective of shortfalls in that State’s administrative response, the tragic turn in Bihar is a pointer to the larger issue of bilateral cooperation and disaster control and management.

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Reports on recent Floods in Orissa

While Orissa is yet to recover from the shock of the unprecedented natural disaster, the Super Cyclone of October 99, followed by the widest spread famine subsequently in 2000; the State is now face to face with another natural calamity of vast magnitude, that is, the floods of July 2001. Compared with the three major floods in the post-independence period, i.e., in 1955, 1982 & 1994, the current flood of July 2001 is a unique one for its ever-widest spread, the longest duration and extensiveness of damage and devastation. The current flood is also unique for the heavy rains that accompanied it intermittently throughout from its humble start in the first week of July. Though receding on the whole, the floodwaters are still visible everywhere leaving the people hopeless & dump-founded, as it was witnessed in the immediate aftermath of the Super Cyclone. Though the number of human and cattle causalities in the current floods is relatively less than the corresponding figures of earlier floods, the state of their survival has worsened miserably beyond description.

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