Kerala minister says reports on infant deaths in Attapadi tribal settlements exaggerated

Kerala minister says reports on infant deaths in Attapadi tribal settlements exaggerated
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 12: Reports about the death of infants in the Attapadi tribal settlements in Palakkad district are exaggerated and far from the truth, Rural Development Minister K.C. Joseph told reporters here Wednesday.

"The real truth is much different to the news reports that are coming out from Attapadi. Last year there were 31 infant deaths and this year it has come down to 13. The state government is committed to the uplift of the entire Attapadi area and numerous schemes are being implemented," said Joseph after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The cabinet held a detailed review of the Attapadi tribal infant deaths after a four-member ministerial team visited the area.

Joseph criticised the media for coming out with twisted reports.

"I was surprised and shocked to hear and read the twisted reports of what I said. All what I said was that programmes are being implemented but it came out the other way. I never ever said there were lapses in the implementation."

Attapadi has the biggest tribal settlement in the state spread over 170 hamlets with a population of under 30,000. The tribals there are always a storehouse for news stories and in the past one week, TV channels have come out with various reports.

"The issue in Attapadi is not that came up recently, it has always been there for many many years. It was yesterday (Tuesday) that road development to the tune of Rs.76 crore was sanctioned and mind you this sort of fund is not allocated for any district even. Forty sub-health centres are there and we have decided to open community kitchens too at various places in the tribal areas there," said Joseph.

He said that a coordination committee of all elected representatives has been set up to monitor implementation of development schemes. It would be led by newly appointed special officer P.B.Nooh.

The government is also making special arrangements for supply of ragi, which is the staple diet of the tribal community and for that State Food Minister Anoop Jacob is in touch with the Centre for uninterrupted supply of ragi.

The state government has also posted numerous health professionals including doctors in these tribal hamlets.

"There has been no instance of funds for Attapadi lapsing and one problem which we found out was that there has been a problem of unification of the programmes of the various departments and that too has been solved by appointing a special officer," said Joseph.

The opposition CPI-M and CPI have been staging protests at different places to highlight the tribals' plight.

"If they are so concerned about the tribals, they should have had a joint protest. They are just trying to make political capital," said Joseph.


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