Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday refuted allegations by Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik that the government was neglecting the Pando tribe.
It was neglect of the community which led to alleged deaths due to malnutrition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said.
Baghel demanded to know the BJP’s policy for Pandos during the 15 years it ruled Chhattisgarh.
Kaushik, alleging that the deaths of Pando tribals due to multi-organ failure were actually caused by malnutrition, said the BJP will approach the Chhattisgarh Governor and the Indian President over the issue.
Baghel said in a statement that the Congress government had taken up initiatives to battle malnutrition, which has fallen by 13 percent in the past one year. The decline was a mere 1-3 percent during BJP rule.
“I am repeatedly saying right from the first day that malnutrition is a big problem in Chhattisgarh, even bigger than Naxalism,” he said.
Pandos are designted a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
Their population stands at around 4,000 and they mainly live in some 30 villages of Balrampur and Surajpur districts in northern Chhattisgarh.
Pandos are mostly small farmers, forest dwellers or labourers working in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.