NHRC Notice on Attappady Deaths
NEW DELHI / KOCHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken a serious note of the inaction on part of the State Government in miserably failing to provide medical facilities in Attappady where 38 tribal children had died due to malnourishment and 849 patients were identified for regular treatment after the NHRC took cognizance of the matter.
The NHRC has issued a notice to the Government of Kerala, through its Chief Secretary, to show cause why Rs.1 lakh each as interim relief should not be granted to the families of 38 tribal children who died due to malnutrition and inaction on part of the State Government in administering the welfare schemes in time, said a statement issued by the commission. Through the notice issued by member Justice D Murugesan, it has also asked the Chief Secretary to submit a report indicating the action taken to prevent occurrence of such deaths.
Though the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) did not receive the comments of the complainants on the reports of the State Government, it observed that the State Government woke up only after its cognizance.
“Had the State administration been functional earlier, the death of 38 tribal children could have been avoided. The mapping of 849 patients for regular medical treatment clearly indicates that there is dearth of medical facilities in the State,” it said.
It observed that the State administration had miserably failed to discharge its responsibility of protecting the rights of the citizens, and that it had taken a serious note of the inaction on part of the government.
Pursuant to the directives of the Commission, the State Government had submitted a report indicating that 38 children had died, and the majority of them were infants.
It had cited the cause of the deaths as either pre-mature birth or low birth weight, and that the children did not need any nutritional intervention by the government.
Regarding the poor maternal health and malnutrition among expectant mothers, it was stated that steps had been taken to improve the situation by distribution vitamin-A supplements; administering iron or folic acid injections; and blood transfusion.
Further, the situation at the Government Tribal Speciality Hospital, Kottathara, has improved by the creation of 75 additional posts of health workers.
In response to the notices received in connection with another complaint on the same issue, the government had admitted that during an inquiry, 849 patients in the Attappady area were identified for regular treatment, and that they were being treated by mobile medical units.
“Apart from the distribution of medical kits in areas under the National Rural Health Misson, distribution of milk, egg, fruits and food grains to the patients has also been started.
“The wage arrears to the tune of Rs 25 lakh, under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) has also been cleared.
“The payment of outstanding wages under the MNREGA after the death of the children, and the instances of malnutrition among women indicates the callous attitude of the State Government towards the fundamental rights of the citizens to food and livelihood,” said the National Human Rights Commission.