Bhubaneswar, Sep 13 (UNI) Former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das today alleged that non-supply of rice for nine months virtually forced the tribals of Thuamul Rampur to consume unhygienic food and become victims to the dreaded cholera disease.
Talking to newsmen here, Mr Das said nearly 70 tribals in the block have died of Cholera, while hundreds of them suffering as they were deprived of the minimum basic needs due to the corrupt administration.
He claimed that though the tribals in the area had started dying in June neither the state government nor the district administration took any concrete steps to tackle the situation and as a result it assumed an epidemic form.
Mr Das alleged that the tribals were forced to consume roots and leaves of various trees out of hunger as they were deprived of rice for nine months by the local storage agent who in connivance with the district supply officials had looted Rs 80 lakh from the tribals and the self help group with the promise to supply them rice under various schemes.
The former Union Minister demanded a CBI inquiry into the rice scam in the Thuamul Rampur block and corruption in various developmental programmes besides arrest of the storage agent, political leaders and the officials involved in the deal.
Mr Das announced that he along with his supporters would hold a 72-hour hunger strike before the Kalahandi district collector demanding supply of rice to the tribals and immediate arrest of the storage agent.
Describing Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as anti-people and responsible for the large scale Cholera deaths in the backward districts of Kalahandi and Koraput, the former Union Minister demanded his resignation on moral grounds.