Booze behind malnutrition deaths, says K C Joseph - The New Indian Express

Booze behind malnutrition deaths, says K C Joseph

Published: 23rd July 2013 10:54 AM

Last Updated: 23rd July 2013 10:54 AM

Rural Development Minister K C Joseph has come out with a statement that might put him and the State Excise Department in a spot. Speaking to media here on Monday, Joseph blamed consumption of liquor for the malnutrition deaths reported from the Attappady tribal hamlets. Arrack is in plenty in the tribal areas in Attappady, the minister said.

“Alcohol consumption is widespread in the tribal hamlets of Attappady. Even pregnant women drink there. If the mothers keep drinking alcohol, then how can you expect the baby to be healthy,” the minister asked. “The staple diet of the tribal people includes ragi and hence the ration supply of rice in Attappady has been replaced by ragi,” the minister said reiterating that the government was doing everything under its capacity for the tribal people in Attappady.

“Arrack is available in plenty in Attappady. There’s no point in running away from reality,” the minister said, putting the Excise Department in an unenviable position since Attappady is an area where prohibition is in force. After an order from the district administration in 1995, all toddy shops in the block closed shutters and toddy tapping was banned. A state-level ban on manufacturing, possessing and consuming arrack came into force in 1996.

Later on the day, K C Joseph once again met the mediapersons here and repeated his statement, this time modifying it slightly and blaming malnutrition together with alcoholism as the prime reason for the child deaths in the tribal land. He also hit out at Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan for his criticism of the government in the issue.

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