Minister’s remark on Attappadi deaths draws flak

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: July 23, 2013 1:35 am

The remarks of Kerala Rural Development Minister K C Joseph Monday that the deaths of newborn babies in tribal area of Attappadi is due to alcoholism among women there has drawn flak from the Opposition. The spurt in deaths so far has been attributed to anaemic mothers and teenagers.

“Tribal women,including the pregnant,consume country liquor. This would affect the health of foetus. If liquor use is reduced,babies could be saved. The government would initiate a campaign to bring down alcohol addiction,’’ said the minister. CM Oommen Chandy had told a news weekly that the tribals in Attappadi do not eat properly. Tribal deaths were reported even after the state implemented a new health package. Reacting to the criticism,Chandy said on Monday that he had formed such an opinion after imbibing the sentiments of the tribals.

“Malnutrition deaths cannot be stopped in a day. They do not take free ration,but demand ragi. Although the FCI does not procure ragi,the government has directed supply of ragi. We are planning to supply cooked ragi,’’ Chandy said.

Attappadi Integrated Tribal Development Project officer Radhakrishnan said liquor use is high among tribals though the government has banned supply of Indian made foreign liquor in the region.

Last year,Health Minister Adoor Prakash had faced the ire of the Opposition in the Assembly when he said certain number of fever deaths in the state were on account of liver ailments caused by liquor consumption. Prakash was forced to retract the remark that was made based on the observations of a Central team.

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