Tribal deaths remain a mystery

Tribal deaths remain a mystery
Highlights

The cause for the death of 15 tribals from a remote hamlet of Chaparayi under Y Ramavaram mandal in the Agency of East Godavari district remains a mystery in the wake of conflicting versions. 

Officials claim food poisoning, while natives say its malaria

Maredumilli (EG Agency): The cause for the death of 15 tribals from a remote hamlet of Chaparayi under Y Ramavaram mandal in the Agency of East Godavari district remains a mystery in the wake of conflicting versions.

District Collector Karthikeya Misra initially stated that food poisoning was the reason for the deaths. Later, he changed his version, saying it could be malaria that claimed their lives.

Minister for Social Welfare Nakka Anand Babu depended on the official version and said they took ill and died after consuming contaminated food at a function in their village.

During a visit to the public health centre at Maredumilli where 32 tribals were receiving treatment after taking ill, the minister further stated that the inhabitants consumed water from a stream in which a dead animal corpse stayed afloat.

Meanwhile this official claims have been disputed by Adivasi activists. Former MP Midiyam Babu Rao of the CPI (M), a medical practitioner by profession, said it is a clear case of cerebral malaria which is rampant in the Agency areas in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts this year. The impact of food contamination lasts for a few hours.

But in the case of Chaparayi tribals struggled for life for several days and 15 of them died in the process while 32 patients were under treatment at Rampachodavaram and Maredumilli hospitals, he said. Babu Rao asked the official machinery to be pragmatic in assessing the ground realities and put in place preventive measures from right now at least.

District Medical and Health Officer K Chandraiah however denied that there were no signs suggesting the incidence of cerebral malaria in Chaparayi or in any agency area for that matter.

The village with 250 Kondreddy tribals is located deep in the forests, remaining inaccessible for the administration. The habitation is 70 km away from Rampachodavaram, the headquarters of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), and it has got motorable road up to 65 km.

One has to reach the village either by two-wheeler or by walk for the remaining distance. A health worker used to reach up to only Gurthedu, a place where a group of IAS officers were held hostage by then outlawed People’s War Group in the mid 1980s, once in a week. She too was transferred recently. With this, the remote agency areas are deprived of basic healthcare, it is said.

Palla Chinnamma (45), an inhabitant of Chaparayi whom this Correspondent could interact at Maredumilli, said the people in the village are suffering from fever, vomiting and headache for a fortnight without any medical help. She contradicted the official version over the causative factors. “They are blaming us to cover up their failure and there was no function held within or outside our village,” she said.

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