Panel suggests shifting of proposed medical college to Attappady

A six-member health experts’ committee constituted by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to study the health emergency at Attappady, from where several tribal infant deaths have been reported, has recommended the setting up of a nutrition rehabilitation centre on a war footing.

It said that the nearly 6,000 malnourished children and 1,000 pregnant women in the area who are anaemic should be brought under the centre’s care.

The committee headed by former Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala B. Ekbal submitted its report to the CPI(M) State committee on May 23.

The committee said that out of 6,000 malnourished children, at least 500, and a good number of pregnant mothers needed to be admitted to the centre.

The report suggested a comprehensive health and nutrition survey, and the shifting of the proposed medical college in Palakkad town, to be set up using the funds for Scheduled Tribes and Schedule Castes welfare, to Attappady.

It said half of the seats at the college should be reserved for tribal people so that enough medical and paramedical staff would be available to serve in the tribal areas of the State.

The committee report pointed out the lack of coordination among various government departments and the grama panchayats concerned to implement welfare schemes and special packages announced by the government for the tribes. An IAS officer with integrity and sympathetic to the cause of the tribes should be appointed for overseeing the implementation of various packages announced for Attappady and coordinating the activities of various departments.

New taluk

A new taluk should be formed for Attappady Hills, which has 747 sq km area, as big as Alappuzha district.

The committee felt that the tribes in Attappady should be brought back to agriculture by giving them back their alienated land.

The report said that the hospitals in Attappady still lacked facilities. The Kottathara Tribal Specialty Hospital had no surgeon, anaesthetic, pharmacist or store keeper. The 28 health sub-centres in Attappady also lacked facilities. The functioning of the field staff of various departments and Asha workers were most unsatisfactory.

The tribal people who were not getting medical aid at Attappady were depending on the hospitals in Coimbatore. In many of the hospitals there, the tribes were given free medical facilities.

The expert committee report warned of an impending liquor tragedy in Attappady. “Illicit liquor brewing and trade are going on in Attappady, though the area was declared liquor-free in 1996.

The cultivation of ganja (Cannabis Sativa) goes on in some interior forest areas. The men and women consume liquor. Even pregnant women do not abstain from consuming liquor. If steps are not taken to stop illegal brewing and sale of liquor, a liquor tragedy cannot be ruled out,” the report said.

The expert committee report also said that the Attappady Hill Area Development Society (AHADS) during its functioning from 2000 to 2010 succeeded in afforesting large tracts of barren land and providing over 2000 houses for the tribes. But the agency failed in developing the agriculture land.

More In: Kerala | National