NARNOOR (ADILABAD DIST.): If anything, the rather reclusive Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) of Kolams in Adilabad district has further moved away from mainstream development, thanks to lack of special focus on this tiny community. These Adivasis are unable even to access the available welfare programmes or health services since the last Kolam Development Officer (KDO) in the Utnoor’s Integrated Tribal Development Agency, retired about a decade back.
About two years back, a team of researchers from Home Science College, Hyderbad, had discovered that the Kolams were more vulnerable to epidemical deaths due to their food habits. The meagre food, consisting of eatables made with dried up ippa or mahua flowers had exhibited toxic qualities which was chiefly responsbile for the weakened resistance system in individuals from this tribe.
The situation is much the same even now as the PVTGs consume rice either with a curry of seasonal home-grown beans, or sometimes meat of some wild animal. That is, if they have not sold the rice supplied to them through the Public Distribution System.
“The Kolams had apparently sold away the rice as we had found about 5,000 families left with no rice for the next meal,” the Additional District Medical and Health Officer for Agency areas T. Prabhakar Reddy recalls of the two year old survey. “Almost all women in the tribe are anaemic with haemoglobin count not more than 7 gm,” he adds.
Waterborne diseases continue to be the bane of this minority Adivasi group. About 30 per cent of the 365 tribal hamlets identified as lacking in safe drinking water are Kolam hamlets, according to engineers of the Rural Water Supply Department.
The rate of death due to seasonal diseases is also proportionately higher in this PVTG. For example, about 20 Kolams died in Jainoor and Sirpur (U) mandals out of a total of 65 in the last epidemic season.
The incidence of school dropouts is perhaps the highest among the Kolams. While most of the children are ‘required’ to work owing to the poverty, others, like the 20 children of primary school-going age from Bheempur-Kolamguda in Narnoor mandal have not gone to school as there is no teacher in the local school for the last three years.
“We need the KDO so that he can look after us. The ITDA should appoint one such officer soon,” demands Kodapa Sone Rao, the Patel of Kothapalli Kolamguda in Narnoor mandal.