Koraput: A task force has been constituted in Odisha's Koraput district to check the practice of child marriage, common among the tribal communities in the region, a senior official said.
Against a state average of 21.3 per cent and a national average of 26.8 per cent, the annual rate of child marriage in the district is 34.7 per cent.
Child marriage is the main reason for high rates of infant mortality, maternal mortality and malnutrition, Koraput Collector Madhusudan Mishra said.
"The rate of child marriage in Koraput is higher than the state and the national average. This is a matter of concern," he stated.
Noting that the task force comprises officials from 21 departments, including health, education, social welfare and police, Mishra said a massive awareness programme against the social menace will be launched in the district soon.
"As school dropout often contributes to child marriage, the education department will create a database of the dropouts and provide life skills to them," he said.
The administration will also take help of community radio service Dhimsa, run by a voluntary organisation SOVA, to broadcast programmes on child marriage in tribal language.
"All child development protection officers (CDPOs) and anganwadi workers have been told to stay vigilant to check the illegal practice in their respective areas. The CDPOs must act as child marriage prohibition officers," he added.
Official sources said the administration has been able to stop at least 24 child marriages in the district over the past two years.
"Most child marriages go unreported. Whenever we get complaints, we intervene with the help of police and counsel parents to send their children to school," said Rajshree Das, a district child protection officer.