Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has said that "the United Democratic Front (UDF) Government in Kerala has spread darkness in the tribal belt of Attappady making it a national shame as tribal infants continue to die due to malnutrition despite the state having better health and social standards on par with some of the developed countries."
Addressing a press conference after her visit to the tribal hamlets of Chalayoor, Chemmannur and Palakayoor here on Thursday, she said that "though both the Central and State governments had announced special packages for Attappady, at the ground level nothing was implemented and the situation continue to be grim."
She said that the hospitals in Attappady are not having enough doctors, para-medical staff and medicine. Nutritious food is not supplied to the tribal mothers and pregnant women. There was no fund available to buy them, she said.
She said that when she visited the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre at Agali Community Health Centre the doctors there told that eight children admitted here of serious malnutrition problems are fed with food samples they collected as there was no fund given to the hospital to buy nutritious food for the infants admitted.
“ This is most shocking and the State government should address these serious problems urgently,” Ms. Karat demanded.
She said that "though Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh announced a Rs.125 crore package for Attappady, the hope of tribal people to get employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS) was not yet realised."
She said that during her visit to their hamlets the tribal women said that they did not get their wages pending for last several months. An amount of Rs.26 lakh is pending payment. They are not getting any job under the MGNREGS scheme now, she said.
The CPI (M) leader said that "the supplies of ration items are also not taking place despite promises of distributing pulses through the ration shops. Instead of 35 kgs of rice every month for a family the tribal people get only 25 to 28 kgs. The Union Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution K.V. Thomas who had promised to streamline ration supply in Attappady seems to have forgotten it once he reached Delhi."
The Central Health Insurance Scheme was also not implemented in Attappady for the last nine months. There is no co-ordination between the Health and Tribal Departments to provide the emergency medical facilities to prevent the death of infants in Attappady, Ms. Karat said.
She said that the UDF government has not attempted to distribute land to the landless tribal people. They have also not taken steps to implement Court orders to restore alienated tribal land.
She said that "her party stand for the restoration of all alienated tribal land in Kerala and all other States.”
The Central government has taken away five lakh acres of tribal land and diverted it for mining and other purposes since 2002. The government is pushing the Mining and Mineral Amendment Bill to take away more land from the tribal people in the forest areas. This land grab is the major problem faced by the tribal community across the country," she said.
Ms. Karat has said she will take up the present crisis in Attappady with the Central government notably the Tribal Welfare and Rural Development Ministers.
She was accompanied by CPI (M) leaders T.N. Seema, M.P, P.K. Sreemathy, M.L.A, C.S. Sujatha, P. Sathidevi, (former M.Ps), K.K. Shilaja, state secretary, AIDWA and Girija Surendran (former M.L.A) during her visit to the tribal hamlets of Attappady.