Call to restore national-level tribal policy

: Tribal organisations led by C.K. Janu and M. Geetanandan said at a press conference here on Monday that the measures announced recently by the government to prevent death of children due to malnutrition in the Attappady tribal settlements were inadequate and called for the appointment of a commission to prepare a comprehensive development plan for the tribespeople.

Ms. Janu and Mr. Geetanandan said measures to ensure their livelihood should be backed by restoration of the national-level tribal policy represented by the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP).

They questioned the effectiveness of the role of the Attappady Hills Area Development Society (AHADS) in tribal development activities in Attappady in recent years and said its only contribution had been a housing scheme and its main agenda was environment conservation activities.

Corruption alleged

They alleged corruption in the nutrition programme implemented through Kudumbasree. The Bhooparishkarana Samithi, represented by Mr. Geetanandan; Gothra Maha Sabha, represented by Ms. Janu; E.P. Kumaradas , convener of Aadi Jana Sabha; and C.K. Baburaj, president — Guruv —Attappadi Adivasi Sanghatana; attended the press conference.

The organisations decided to launch a campaign to mobilise opinion among tribes and citizens on this issue. These views would be submitted to the government, they said at the press conference.

The organisations alleged that the death in tribal colonies was caused by the total breakdown of the administrative apparatus in Attappady. The transfer of funds that was routed through the ITDP to local bodies following the switchover to Panchayati Raj had led to corruption and inefficiency, resulting in the funds not being used for tribal welfare.

The establishment of AHADS had also made panchayat-led tribal development irrelevant. Mr. Geetanandan and Ms. Janu alleged that AHADS had used only 10 per cent of available funds for tribal development

Thy said AHADS had no projects for agricultural development, literacy, poverty alleviation, health of women and children, and forest rights. “So, we find that deaths due to malnutrition occurred in places where AHADS had successfully established its housing schemes,” they said

Ms. Janu and Mr. Geetanandan said the government’s move to raise doctors’ salary to encourage them to serve in tribal belts would not benefit Adivasis in any way. “Measures were needed to ensure nutritive food for tribal mothers, special medical camps for the sick, and appointment of a commission to prepare a long-term plan for welfare of tribal people in Attappadi,” they said.

They said monetary benefits from the government should be channelled by cash transfer through bank accounts and formation of development committees consisting of tribal people to chalk out development programmes.

  • Graft in Kudumbasree nutrition project alleged

  • Call to appoint panel to prepare development plan