THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A 2010 survey conducted by the Scheduled Tribes Development Department had found that nearly half of the total deaths in the ST communities over the previous five years were premature or unnatural.
The department recently prepared a state-level socio-economic status report based on the survey data which is yet to be published. The report accessed by ‘Express’ revealed stark disparities in the development indices of the tribals compared to the general population.
According to the report, 5,957 of 12,189 deaths between 2005 and 2010 were ‘unnatural’ with 28 starvation deaths. A total of 432 persons died due to excessive consumption of alcohol/ drugs, 3,802 for lack of proper medical care, 950 in suicides, 48 in wild animal attacks and 697 in accidents.
The report which found some positive trends like a sex ratio of 1000:1031 and literacy rate of 74.44 percent, opined several other parameters required a drastic improvement.
It suggested an integrated policy for the comprehensive development of the over four lakh tribals who form 1.28 percent of the total population.
The report said 13.09 percent of the total families were affected by malnutrition and their number was maximum in Wayanad district, followed by Palakkad and Idukki districts.
A total of 18 percent of the total families had members who were differently-abled or mentally-challenged. A total of 31 percent of families had members with chronic diseases.
A total of 23.15 percent of STs do not have ration cards while a majority of those distributed were defective. Only about 51 percent of the families were included in the below poverty line (BPL) category which was a far cry from reality, the report said.
About 56 percent of the families were in debt and one-third of them had borrowed from private money lenders.
Nearly 30.27 percent of persons in the 15-59 age group were unemployed. Despite reservation benefits and special recruitment drives, only 4.33 percent had government or quasi-government jobs.
Social security schemes were still a dream for the majority as only 17 percent of the widows were beneficiaries of widow pension and 13 percent of the aged received old-age pension.
The dropout rate was 62 percent in general and 80 percent among primitive tribes.
70 percent of the 4762 oorus (settlements) in state did not have an anganwadi. About 9.66 percent families were houseless and 4.78 percent landless. The number of landless was high in Wayanad and Palakkad districts.