Bhopal, Sep 22 (UNI) Amidst reports of dozens of children allegedly dying of malnutrition at various places in Madhya Pradesh, the state government today ''clarified'' that the kids fell victim to viral fever and diarrhoea.
''Over a period of three months, 53 children died in Khandwa district and 40 in Satna district. Kids in these areas are suffering malnutrition but the children who died were suffering dehydration and viral fever,'' the regime's spokesman and Public Works Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed before reporters here.
However, the Minister did not deny that the kids who died were also suffering malnutrition. Mr Vijayvargiya and Commissioner (Public Relations) Manoj Shrivastav, who was also present, were asked for information of child deaths in various other districts over the past two to three months but the duo could not furnish a reply.
''In this state, 48,000 children are affected by malnutrition but that cannot be a cause of death. The kids who died hailed from the Korku and Kol tribal communities that have several health-related superstitions. Unwell children are treated by witch doctors,'' the Minister claimed.
Citing many examples, he said that government efforts led to hospitalisation of kids but they and their relatives fled within hours. The government machinery was making ''every possible effort'' including public awareness in affected areas so that malnutrition was controlled and ailing children provided treatment.
''The rhetoric by Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee President Suresh Pachouri and other parties' leaders is unfortunate. The government is serious over this issue is taking several steps against malnutrition including the Bal Sanjeevani and Shaktimaan schemes,'' Mr Vijayvargiya added.
UNI PKJ-AC 2056