THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Cabinet on Wednesday appointed a nine-member panel for reviewing various government programmes implemented in the Attappadi tribal areas. The Cabinet also appointed Ottappalam sub-collector P B Nooh as nodal officer for co-ordinating schemes undertaken by various government departments in the region.
The decision was taken on the basis of a report submitted by Health Minister V S Sivakumar, Rural Development Minister K C Joseph, ST Welfare Minister P K Jayalakshmi and Panchayat Minister M K Muneer who had undertaken a two-day visit to Attappadi following reports of infant deaths.
The nine-member panel includes the local MP and MLA, the district panchayat president and a member of the district panchayat, the block panchayat president and three grama panchayat presidents in addition to the nodal officer, who is also its convener.
Briefing the media on Cabinet decisions here, K C Joseph termed the reports on infant deaths “exaggerated.’’ There were some shortfalls which would be looked into, he said. “Last year there were 31 deaths. This year, only 13 deaths have been reported. The situation is very much under control,’’ he said.
In a related decision, the government also appointed Palakkad Deputy DMO Dr Prabhudas full-time to Attapadi to coordinate the activities of the Health Department in the region. The Health Department will sanction `2 crore more to the region via the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the Minister said.
As part of welfare measures, the Cabinet decided to provide one individual from each tribal family employment for 200 days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
Normally, employment is guaranteed for only 100 days, the Minister said. Community kitchens would be re-opened in the belt and the government has also kicked off road works to the tune of `76 crore, he said. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob has been asked to ensure sufficient ragi which forms a staple diet for Attapadi tribals.
The government is also exploring the possibility of using 1200 acres of forest land currently leased to a farming society for rehabilitating alienated tribal families. The society will be asked to wind up its activities, the minister said. Cabinet has entrusted the job with Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and ST Welfare Minister P K Jayalakshmi.