Opposition walks out over adivasi deaths
Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition staged a walkout in the State Assembly today to express its protest over the Government's "insensitiveness" to the plight of the adivasi communoities, whose settlements are reportedly in the grip of starvation.
The Opposition had given notice for an adjournment motion to take up the issue in the House. Though it was denied, the Speaker permitted the CPI(M) member, Mr. M. V. Jayarajan, to bring in a submission on the topic.
Flaunting copies of newspapers highlighting the problem, Mr. Jayarajan said that the situation was so grim that there would be more deaths among adivasis if the Government failed to act immediately. Two persons had already lost their lives and over 50 with starvation-related maladies were undergoing treatment at the Mananthavady Government hospital, he added.
He said he had visited some of the settlements in the district. He produced a bunch of photographs showing the condition of the people in the adivasi settlements. "Take a loot at these photos", he said. "These people are surviving on grass aqnd leaves now. There are one-and-a-half lakh such people in the hill areas of the State", he said.
The Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, Dr. M. A. Kuttappan, said that the Wyanad District Medical Officer had reported that one of the deaths mentioned in the newspapers was due to 'septicemia', with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. In the second case, the woman who was reported to have died of starvation was not brought to any hospital. Therefore, the cause of death could not be ascertained, the Minister said.
Dr. Kuttappan said that, in the month of June, the people in the Adivasi settlement were given rice and pulses. A medical team visited the affected settlements recently. A team of three doctors and three nurses had been formed at Mananthavady and it would visit all the settlements, the Minister said.
Dr. Kuttappan admitted that several kinds of diseases were stalking the adivasi settlements. The Wyanad Collector had been instructed to ensure that enough medicine were made available for the treatment of these people.
The Government was taking steps to extend financial assistance to families in the affected settlements, he added.
At the conclusion of the Minister's response, the leader of the Opposition, Mr. V. S. Achuthanandan, got up from his seat to say that the reply was far from satisfactory. "From your reply it is clear how much importance you are attaching to the problem of the poor adivasi people", he said before announcing the walk-out.
Opposition's conduct condemned
The Chief Minister, Mr. A. K. Antony, today took exception to the behaviour of the opposition members, who shouted slogans in the Assembly while staging a walk-out over the government's "insensitiveness" to the reported starvation deaths in the adivasi settlement in the Wyanad district.
"This is becoming a regular affair in the House nowadays. This is a bad tendency which should be checked", he told the Speaker Mr. Vakkom B. Purushothaman.
Mr. R. Balakrishna Pillai, senior UDF leader, reminded the Speaker that this was the second time the Opposition was indulging in similar open "indecorus" practice in the House in recent days. The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. M. M. Hassan, too chipped in with the opinion that the Speaker should put his foot down on such behaviour.
"We shall discuss this issue in the Business Advisory Committee of the House. There is no doubt that slogan shouting in the House should be condemned by all", he said.
Minister to visit tribal areas:
The Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, Dr. M. A. Kuttappan, will visit the tribal areas of Wyanad district on July 20 and 21 to see for himself the situation in these places.