A tribal woman in labour had to be carried on a sling made of clothes and a stick for four kilometres at Kerala’s Attappadi for want of a road. The woman gave birth to a girl after reaching the hospital.
Twenty-year-old Mani, hailing from primitive Kurumba tribe, went into labour early on Tuesday at her home in Edavani, 25 km from Kottathara, where the government has a tribal specialty hospital. One has to walk seven kilometres from Edavani to reach a motorable road.
Murukan, a resident of the tribal colony, said, “We called public health centre at Puthur for an ambulance that can reach the point where the motorable road begins. We were told that the ambulance has been off the road for a year. As time was running out, we made the woman walk through the forest. After three kilometres, she collapsed. We made a stretcher using clothes we had taken for her hospital stay and a stick. We carried her on a sling for four kilometres. We had to cross the same river four times,” he said.
He said that on reaching the motorable road, they hired a private vehicle and rushed the woman to the hospital. “She gave birth to a girl child ten minutes after reaching. This is her fourth child.”
Kerala Tribal Co-ordination committee president K A Ramu said Edavani is the only colony at Attappadi without road connectivity and would be isolated during the monsoon.
Hospital superintendent Dr Prabhu Das said, “The estimated delivery date was the seventh of next month. Considering lack of road connectivity, we had advised her to get admitted much earlier. The ambulance is in the custody of Puthur panchayat, but could not be used as the panchayat did not pay insurance premium and maintain the vehicle.’’
Puthur panchayat president Jyothi Anilkumar said they allotted Rs 1.25 lakh for the ambulance last year, but the amount could not used for its maintenance due to objection from audit department.
M B Rajesh, who represents Palakkad in Lok Sabha, said under Pradan Mantri Sadak Yojana, Rs 9.87 crore has been allotted for constructing the road. “Work has been awarded. The ambulance was purchased using the MP’s local area development fund. But, the department concerned has to maintain it.’’