Thiruvananthapuram: CPI-M-led LDF Opposition Monday staged a walkout in the Assembly accusing the government of lethargy in dealing with problems of tribals at Attappady in Palakkad district which led to the death of 52 infants in the last 18 months due to malnutrition.
The Opposition sought an adjournment of the House to discuss the 'serious' matter and alleged that the Oommen Chandy government virtually lost the moral right to continue in office as it "violated" the right to survival of a child guaranteed under the Constitution by denying the basic needs.
Holding that both the UDF and LDF, which ruled the state alternatively for the past several decades, were equally responsible for the happenings in tribal belt, Chandy said, "Death of children and newborns due to underweight and malnutrition is very unfortunate and it is an incident that should not have happened in the state."
"..both UDF and LDF are in the dock for the happenings at Attappady," Chandy said, replying to an adjournment notice moved by CPI-M's A K Balan. "This is not a time to blame each other", he said.
The death of children happened due to the peculiar situation prevailing at Attappady, Chandy said, adding, steps had been taken to supply nutritious food and address the health problems of tribals.
Chandy sought the co-operation of all to implement the Rs 112 crore comprehensive development package for Attappady sanctioned by the Centre during the recent visit to the area by Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Seeking notice for the motion, Balan charged the government with complete failure in addressing the situation even though it received sufficient information on the health scenario of Attappady months ago.
According to unofficial statistics, the number of infants and newborns who died in the tribal belt would come to more than 200, he said.
Balan expressed concern over the situation and said if remedial steps were not taken immediately, the entire primitive tribes of the state would become extinct.
Before staging walkout, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said government was indifferent to the problems of tribals and government promises and announcements remained on paper.
CPI leader in the House C Divakaran demanded a probe to ascertain the reasons for the present health situation to know whether corruption, lack of facilities, official indifference, or wrong policies were responsible for it.
After Chandy's reply, Speaker G Karthikeyan disallowed the motion.
Later, Chandy, however, said government was ready for a debate any day of the current session, but opposition insisted for a discussion today itself.