Severe malnutrition among migrant Gotti Koya children

K. Venkateshwarlu

gotti_koyaOver four years after the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) order, a number of Gotti Koya tribe children who migrated from conflict zone of Chhattisgarh to villages in Warangal district continue to suffer from severe malnutrition and lack of access to safe drinking water and education.

A NCPCR team had visited these villages in Tadvai and Eturunagaram mandals in Warangal district along with adjoining Khammam way back in December 2007 acting on a petition on pathetic conditions of these tribal women and children displaced by extremist-police conflict in Chhattisgarh.

The NCPCR had suggested a slew of State interventions including extension of ICDS, health services with focus on pregnant and lactating women and infants, issue of ration cards and MGNREGA job cards to these hapless tribes.

But a recent visit by a study team of Solidarity Committee for Internally Displaced Persons found that the NCPCR's recommendations were being implemented partially and appalling conditions prevailed in most of the 30 settlements where about 1000 Gotti Koya families have taken shelter.

"Though situation is much better than what it was four years ago, a little more pro-active response from the government will help them a lot," said P. Raghu, a member of team.

Other members of the team were V. Rukmini Rao, J. Venkatesh and Badavath Raju.

It found that only fifty per cent of these families possessed ration cards while 40 per cent had MGNREGA job cards.

In the absence of land and access to forest, all of them depended on wage labour. Most of them get work in chilli farms but for a few months only.

For some strange reasons, "which needs to be probed" most of these job cards are with sarpanches. There were complaints of card holders not getting work and denial of wages after work.

Children were severely malnourished and women were anaemic.

Many children were not immunized while pregnant and lactating women were not getting any attention from public health department. Just a day before the team's visit, a year-old child of Banjbandh village died of diarrhoea.

With no access to safe drinking water, they survive on muddy water from the local stream.

[Courtesy: The Hindu, March 24, 2012]

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