A.K. Balan, MLA, has accused Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Rural Development Minister K.C. Joseph of defaming the tribes of Attappady by saying that their consumption of alcohol and reluctance to take food are the prime reasons for the problems gripping the tribal hamlets.

Mr. Balan said in a statement here on Monday that 55 children had died of malnutrition so far. Mothers and young women are facing serious health problems there. Four months have elapsed after reporting the deaths, but there is no coordination among various departments. The Chief Minister should give details of the food supplied for tackling malnutrition. Money is being swindled in the name of food supply in the colonies. The District Collector has recommended a judicial probe into the issue. Iron tablets costing Rs.10 per unit are not supplied in the colonies. There are no doctors in hospitals. They are not getting the supply of tribal volunteers.

The tribes could not use latrines as there is no water supply. Drinking water shortage is acute. There is a ban on arrack in the colonies. The government has not ensured that the food they preferred is being supplied through ration shops. There are anomalies in grain supply in 36 out of the 43 ration shops in the colonies. He accused the government of failing to initiate creative steps to address the problems being faced by the tribes.

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