The Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) has moved the NHRC against non-functioning of Anganwadi Centres at Aralikkonam and other tribal hamlets in Attappady in Palakkad district of Kerala which has resulted in denial of nutrition to the young children, pregnant women and lactating mothers who are mostly tribals in this area.
The Anganwadi Centre at Aralikkonam was constructed in 2003 but has been lying closed for the last five years. This closed Anganwadi building symbolises the institutional neglect of the tribal population by the State Government.
It has been reported that the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) at Aralikkonam in Attappady has been lying closed for the last five years. It is now functioning from a tiny room in the house of Ms Rajamani, who works as the helper of the AWC. There are around 10 kids who are in the pre-school age in the area. They along with several pregnant women, lactating mothers and senior citizens are not getting proper nutrition supply. In Attappady, there are 192 tribal hamlets (ooru) and Aralikkonam is one of them. And, it is reported that the condition of Anganwadi centres at another ooru (hamlet) called Melebhoothayar and several other oorus is similarly pathetic.
Attappady has been in the news recently for premature deaths of infants belonging to the tribal communities. As per media reports eight infants belonging to the tribal population died in Attappady during 2021, including three deaths in November alone. It is stated that malnourishment is one of the major causes of health concern in Attappady. In view of the serious malnutritional issues plaguing tribal inhabited areas of Attappady, the non-functioning of the Anganwadi Centres is a serious issue and the neglect by the State Government is evident.
IRAC has appealed to the NHRC for urgent interventions by taking the following measures: – Direct the state government of Kerala to order a high-level inquiry into the nonfunctioning of the Anganwadi Centres in all the 192 tribal hamlets (ooru) including at Aralikkonam and Melebhoothayar in Attappady in Palakkad district, and submit a report to the NHRC within four weeks; – Direct the state government of Kerala to take immediate steps to reconstruct/repair the Anganwadi Centres and make them functional; – Direct the state government of Kerala to ensure proper supply of nutrition to the young children, lactating mothers, pregnant women and senior citizens in Attappady.
Image: The ruined building of Aralikkonam anganwadi stands out to be a symbol of official negligence. Photo: Kumar Attappady