Death toll due to alleged malnutrition in Attappady mounts to 33

Four more infant deaths have been reported from Attappady, taking the death toll of the tribal children, allegedly due to malnutrition, to 33 in the last 15 months.

The child of Pushpa and Maruthachalam died a few days after birth at a private hospital in Coimbatore. Though the infant died five days ago, the death was reported on Thursday from the remote Vechupathy hamlet at Sholayur grama panchayat.

Three deaths were reported from the Nellipathy hamlet at Agali grama panchayat.

The one-month-old infant of Rami and Maruthan had died at the Agali Government Hospital last week. The infant of Vellankiri and Maruthy had died at Thrissur Medical College Hospital two months ago. Their first child, who was premature had also died.

Organisations of the tribal people blamed the government for the deaths of so many infants at Attappady as their warning and appeal for help had been ignored by the Health and Social Welfare Departments.

On November 28, 2012, a health convention organised by Thambu and other organisations at Attappady had demanded a comprehensive health package for Attappady and a special scheme for the tribal children.

A resolution passed at the convention demanded an expert committee to study anaemia and malnutrition among the tribal people.

A memorandum to the Chief Minister, Health Minister and the District Collector had requested them to take urgent measures to streamline the working of hospitals and primary health centres at Attappady.

Rajendra Prasad, president of Thambu, said Attappady was becoming a valley of deaths as there was a big gap between the number of births and deaths registered there.

He said a survey by Thambu found that from January 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, 519 births had been reported as against 776 deaths at Attappady. At Sholayur grama panchayat, 49 births had been reported against 182 deaths, Pudur -103 births and 164 deaths, and at Agali 367 births and 430 deaths. Of this, the majority were tribal people, Mr. Prasad said.

CPI team to visit

A delegation of the Communist Party of India (CPI) comprising former Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran and V.S. Sunilkumar, MLAs, will visit the tribal hamlets of Attappady on Saturday.

The MLAs will be accompanied by former Deputy Speaker Jose Baby and CPI district secretary Suresh Raj.

The All India Democratic Women’s Association has demanded that the government take immediate steps to ensure that free ration, safe drinking water, nourishing food and medicines are reached to all tribal hamlets in Attappady.

In a statement in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, State secretary of AIDWA K.K. Shailaja and State president T.N. Seema said it was criminal that the Tribal Welfare Department had been doing nothing for the well being of the tribal people.

They said AIDWA had submitted complaints to the Chief Minister and the Tribal Welfare Minister.