Seethathodu: The forests adjoining the famed Sabarimala temple have been the abode of tribal communities for centuries. Like tribals elsewhere in the country, the lot of these communities here in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district too is miserable. There is nothing to cheer for tribal children residing in the Sabarimala forests this summer vacation as a a popular food-aid scheme of the government is in limbo.
As a result, close to 75 children of Laha, Plappally, Attathodu, Nilackal and Chalakayam, who had ample food during summer vacations in the past few years, are left with no food this time around.
The children are starving due to the inefficiency of the Pathanamthitta district child welfare department, say the tribals.
Most days, the children are going hungry as the ‘Sundarabhalyam Subhakshithabhalyam’ scheme, through which food was provided to them, is not implemented effectively.
The scheme had been implemented in April and May for the past two years under the aegis of the Social Justice Department in association with the district child welfare unit, the Scheduled Tribes (ST) Development Department and the Kudumbashree district mission.
The funds for the scheme were earmarked by the ST Development Department after receiving requisite application from the district child welfare unit. The child welfare unit also collated information regarding the needy children in the area, and the food was prepared by the Kudumbashree units. There is uncertainty over the implementation of the scheme after the child welfare unit’s former district officer A O Abeen was transferred.
There are allegations that the child welfare unit has done nothing to implement the scheme this year. The children used to get food from school when the classes were on, and their only hope to get a square meal during the summer vacation is the ‘Sundarabhalyam Subhakshithabhalyam’ scheme. But in the neighbouring Moozhiyar region, the scheme is being implemented without any hiccups with funds from Seethathodu panchayat.