As told to Parliament (February 10, 2023): Smriti Irani says her ministry ‘unaware’ of CSE report on malnutrition deaths

The report by Centre for Science & Environment and DTE shows over 1.7 million Indians die every year due to poor diet

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 10 February 2023
संसद में आज: मंत्रालय को देश में प्रवासी और भूमिहीन किसानों की संख्या की जानकारी नहीं है

Smriti Zubin Irani, Union minister for women and child development, told the Lok Sabha that her ministry is not aware of a report by the Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment and Down to Earth that showed 71 per cent of Indians cannot afford a nutritious meal and more than 1.7 million people die annually because of diseases attributable to poor diet. She was responding to a question raised in the Lok Sabha regarding the findings of this new study. 

No data of deaths related to poor diet is reported by any state / Union territory, she said.

The issue of food security at the household level, however, has been addressed by the Centre by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality foodgrains at subsidised rates, the minister shared. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, free ration was provided to 80 crore people under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, she added.

Under the new integrated food security scheme launched on January 1, 2023, free food grains would be provided to 813.5 million beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act for the year 2023, targeting the most vulnerable 67 per cent of the population, Irani said.

Cases of maternal deaths

India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has declined by six points from 103 per 100,000 live births in 2017-19 to 97 per 100,000 live births in 2018-20, according to the Sample Registration System reports released by the Registrar General of India, Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union minister of state for health and family welfare, told the Lok Sabha.

India has achieved the National Health Policy target for MMR of less than 100 deaths per 100,000 live births and is on track to achieve the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals target of MMR less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030, she added.

Antimicrobial resistance

The Indian Council of Medical Research has established an anti-microbial resistance (AMR) surveillance and research network to capture the trends and patterns of AMR in India, Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union minister of state for health and family welfare, told the Lok Sabha February 10, 2023. 

Acknowledging that AMR is a multifaceted problem with significant consequences for individuals as well as healthcare systems of the country, the minister said the network will monitor data on the trends and patterns of antimicrobial resistance of clinically important bacteria and fungi limited to human health from 30 tertiary hospitals.

Use of antibiotics on food crops

No report has been received from any part of the country regarding indiscriminate use of antibiotics in food crops, leading to the development and spread of AMR in crops, according to Narendra Singh Tomar, Union minister of agriculture and farmers welfare, told the Rajya Sabha. 

However, the matter of use of antibiotics was considered by Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee (RC) suo moto to find out safer and better alternatives, he added.

New variants of SARS-CoV-2

During the last 60 days, more than 90 new variants have been detected among the samples analysed by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium from across the country, Pawar informed the Lok Sabha. 

Omicron and its sub-lineages continue to be the dominant variants in India. Of these, XBB and BQ are the most prevalent lineages circulating in the country, the minister added.

Rising cases of cancer

The number of cancer cases in India grew to 1,461,427 in 2022 from 1,426,447 in 2021, Pawar shared with the Lok Sabha. 

Migrant and landless farmers

No specific census / survey of landless and migrant farmers has been conducted and as such, the exact number of landless and migrant farmers in the country is not available, Tomar told the Rajya Sabha. 

Promotion of organic farming

Government is implementing dedicated schemes for promotion of organic farming in the country since 2015-16, Tomar said in the Rajya Sabha. 

These include the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region (MOVCDNER), the minister noted. Farmers are provided a subsidy of Rs 31,000 per hectare every three years under PKVY and Rs 32,500 per hectare every three years under MOVCDNER for various organic inputs, he added.

An amount of Rs 667.34 crore has been earmarked for the promotion of organic farming for 2022-23, according to Tomar.

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