T.K.A. Nair, Adviser to the Prime Minister, has urged top officials of various State agencies, especially the Health Department, to take urgent steps to prevent further deaths of tribal infants at Attappady.
On a three-day visit to Attappady, Mr. Nair met the officials at the Kottathara Government Tribal Specialty Hospital on Tuesday.
He asked the officials why ‘‘the 500 paramedical staff available at Attappady could not take care of 600 pregnant tribal women, who are in the immediate zone of danger, with enough money, infrastructure, and manpower.’’ He said ‘‘lack of coordination among various government agencies and fixing responsibility to each of them continue to be the bane of Attappady.’’ The officials concerned with health and nutrition in Attappady should take emergency measures to take care of the pregnant women to avoid a national shame.
The meeting was attended by A. Santhosh Mathew, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Rural Development; M. Beena, State Director, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM); K.B. Valsalakumari, Executive Director, Kudumbasree Mission; Abbey Paul, Director, Kudumbasree Mission; Prabhudas, Deputy District Medical Officer and nodal officer for the Health Department in Attappady; A. Kowsigan, Sub-Collector, Ottappalam; A. Subbaiah, nodal officer for Attappady; Sreehari, District Project Manager, NRHM; P.V. Radhakrishnan, Integrated Tribal Development Officer, Attappady; N.C. Induchoodan, Director, Attappady Hill Area Development Society; among others.
Mr. Nair began his visit of the tribal hamlets from Narasimukku at Agali grama panchayat in the morning. Tribal women, who unbundled their woes before Mr. Nair, said their biggest problem is landlessness. ‘‘Even the land in our possession is claimed by the Forest Department in some places. The government is not implementing the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 at Attappady to get us the land,’’ they lamented.
They urged him to get the support of the Excise and Police departments in their fight against illicit brewing and trade at Attappady.
Another problem they face is shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Though the Bhavani river flows nearby, they don’t get potable water.
Mr. Nair visited the tribal hamlets of Gonchiyoor and Moolagangal at Sholayur grama panchayat in the afternoon. He also visited the anganwadis in the Vechupathy and Vellakulam tribal hamlets at Sholayur.
On Wednesday, Mr. Nair will visit the Kulappadi tribal hamlet and hold discussions with officials in the afternoon.