Prakasam: Officials leave tribal population in lurch

Prakasam: Officials leave tribal population in lurch
Kudumula Ankamma distributing morsels of rice to family members at their hamlet near Billagondi in Prakasam district

  • More than one lakh Chenchus, who live in tribal thandas in Nalllamala in Prakasam district, say no official visited them since the announcement of lockdow
  • As no essential commodities are suppied to their hamlets, they are forced to consume only rice mixed with red chilli powder
  • Since hostels are closed, even kids are deprived of normal food

Yerragondapalem (Prakasam): Kudumula Ankamma, a Chenchu woman, is mixing red hot chili powder in rice and doling out handfuls to the family members around her, when The Hans India visited their hamlet at Billagondi in Yerragondapalem mandal. Her grandchildren said enough, just after eating two morsels of rice and emptied a glass of water with teary eyes.

When enquired, Ankamma burst out that due to the lockdown conditions, they are not able to get any essential commodities from the town and forcing the children too to eat the hot chilli rice along with the elders.

She thanked the government for distributing rice and red gram for free, but said that they shared the groceries with the neighbours who didn't have a ration card yet.

Kudumula Lingaiah, her husband said that by the time they reach the town by walk, the time to purchase the essential commodities and groceries was over and the police started beating them. He said that they used to work in the MGNREGS as daily wage labourers until the lockdown was imposed. Now, the field officers were not allowing them as the works were underway in other villages. He claimed that no person from the government had visited them since the announcement of lockdown and enquired about their wellbeing.

Udutala Venkataiah, a youth from the hamlet said that there are similar situations in other thandas. He said that the people are eating the mixture of chillis crushed in tamarind and salt in the lunch and dinner and are suffering from acidity and other health problems.

As per the census, there is about 1.5 lakh scheduled tribe population in Prakasam district and the Nallamala Hills in Yerragondapalem, Pullalacheruvu, Dornala, Giddalur, Arthaveedu, etc host most of the Chenchus and a less number of Sugalis.

Billagondi, Palanka, Sangam Thanda, Sattu Thanda, Magutur Thanda, Burujupalle Thanda, Jayaramapuram Thanda, Obulapuram Thanda, Diguvametta Thanda, Dur Chintala Thanda, J Pullalacheruvu Chenchu Colony and others in the western area of Prakasam district lost contact with urban world since lockdown and condition of the locals is not enquired by the officials.

The tribals say they are requesting the government to supply essential commodities. Yadagiri Ranamma of J Pullalacheruvu Thanda said that they are used to eat chenchugadda (a type of root the tribals eat in drought ) for survival, but the children are not used to it.

She said with hostels closed, many children reached home and they are also eating red hot chillies now.

The district tribal welfare officer E Lalitabai said that they have asked the local officials to provide rice and red gram to all ration cardholders and prepare a list of people who didn't have the cards.

She said that a number of people are donating commodities for the tribals in those areas. She said that the problems of the tribal people didn't come to her notice and assured that the issues of the people will be addressed immediately.

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