No medicine can save starving Maharashtra tribals

After death of 2 tribal kids, politicos make a beeline to village; experts say socio-economic revamp only solution

Published: 19th September 2016 04:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2016 07:04 PM   |  A+A-

MOKHADA/MUMBAI:The issue of malnourishment in Mokhada is more of a socioeconomic problem that can’t be solved just by increased medical aid, said experts working with local NGOs even as the opposition leaders who visited the area on Saturday demanded increased government aid for tribals.

The recent death of two kids — Sagar Wagh and Ishwar Savara — in Mokhada taluka of Palghar district has kick-started a big debate on malnutrition in Maharashtra. Both the kids belonged to Katkari tribe — the weakest and probably the smallest of all the tribes in the area.

“Katkaries fall in the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) category and the government has special schemes for the PVTGs and more often, the allocated money lies idle. This happens because they are not a politically significant tribe,” Milind Thatte of ‘Vayam’, a movement for tribal development, told Express.

No.jpgVarsha Parchure of Parivartan Mahila Sanstha, which  works among tribal women, points out several social ills including illiteracy, addictions, non-hygienic habits and  early marriages as the causes that lead to malnourishment of children. “Katkaris don’t hold land. They are labourers. They migrate in search for good wages. Schemes like MNREGS too fail to keep them in their village as they get good wages if they travel to nearby urban centres,” said Varsha.

Non availability of water too is a big hurdle. “The taluka houses big dams that provide water to Mumbai. Yet, even expectant mothers at times have to walk 4-6 km to fetch water,” points out Dr. Anita Patil, who is attached with CSR program of Hinduja Hospital.

“When we wanted to help, no one came forward and now everyone is coming up with assurances,” said Namdev Savara and wife Sunder, parents of Ishwar  at Khoch village.  “What is the point in coming now….whatever was there, we have lost,” said parents of Sagar — Shivram Wagh and Sita.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress), who visited the area, said that the issue would be highlighted in the House. He also announced setting up of a permanent shelter for malnourished children from the area by his family-owned trust that runs a super specialty hospital and a medical college.

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