06/14/2004, 00.00
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Deaths by starvation in the West Bengal region

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – In the last month, five people have died of hunger in Amlasole, the west Bangalore  region mostly inhabited by tribes. One tribal member, whose father died of starvation, said that last month his family had almost nothing to eat but some jungle fruits and wild vegetables, for over a month.

The Amlasole region is a region devastated by drought, under-developed and without an infra-structure, that  has the lowest  income per capita in the country. The tribe 'Adivasis' survive by selling the wood of the area's  rich forests. The government has banned the individual sale of the wood, however, and formed various cooperative organizations of tribals.

 The starvation deaths have become a black stain on left-wing government in power in Bengala. The Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) has prided itself on its rural development and its pro-poor policies. Now, it is scrambling for cover amid the reports of the five starvation deaths. The Chief Minister of West  Bengal has admitted that, " the starvation situation exists because of hunger, poverty, lack of safe drinking water, and poor health care system." He has asked officials to investigate on the 'real status of the deaths', and to work out a compensation package for the families of the victims. (N.C.)

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