The poor of Adilabad, Andhra Pradesh are suffering from the ill effects of edible oil, sold loose in these rural areas. Adulterated oil being sold in the local grocery shops is now being blamed as one the factors impacting the general health of these poor tribals.
In the Agency areas, a large number of tribals are falling prey to frequent fevers. According to health workers , their levels of natural resistance are being slashed by such oil. In view of such prevailing conditions, there is now an increased demand for packaged or 'safe' oil to be made available through the public distribution system (PDS).
"We have already done that. About 1,600 one-litre packets of refined palm oil have been kept at the fair price shops in the mandals of Sirpur (U), Narnoor, Jainoor, Utnoor and Indervelli that are most affected by the tropical diseases now. These are being sold at Rs. 50 per litre," says G. Sambaiah, district manager of the Civil Supplies Corporation.
At the same time, the government needs to help cultivate the habit of consumption of packaged oil among the tribals. The experiment of sale of iodized salt through the PDS could be taken as an example before taking up sale of edible oil, say experts.
Iodized salt is being sold at Rs. 3 to Rs. 4 per kg. This is about Rs. 3 less than other brands available in the open market. Yet villagers have preferred the loose uniodised salt. The main reason behind this is poverty. This prevents many from purchasing 1 kg packets, when they can make do with purchase of 50 grams uniodised salt for just 50 paise .
The same goes with edible oil. Tribals prefer purchasing small quantities without bothering about the purity of the oil. The Rs. 50 per litre price of oil is higher that the price of between Rs. 35 to Rs. 40 for a litre of adulterated oil. Moreover, tribals buy groceries in much smaller quantities.
It has been suggested that the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) at Utnoor can try supplying edible oil in smaller packets and at subsidised rates.
Meanwhile the Minister of Roads & Buildings and Adilabad district in-charge T. Jeevan Reddy , has recently conceded that of the 125 deaths that have taken place Adilabad district this year, malaria caused some of them.
This bit of information was out at the District Review Committee (DRC) meeting. The tropical fevers that ravaged the five mandals of Narnoor, Sirpur (U), Jainoor, Indervelli and Utnoor in the agency area since June this year, was being discussed. Around 369 persons in tribal areas had died due to these fevers. In response, Mr. Jeevan Reddy said that the government had already taken all measures to control the situation. The Collector had enlisted the control measures undertaken by the government. At the meeting, members also protested the deplorable condition of the NH 7 which caused many road accidents and loss of lives.
The Minister was earlier barraged by agitating activists of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) near the Collectorate. They were protesting against fever deaths, bad condition of NH 7 and decreasing prices of cotton.