ADILABAD: Abandoned houses are what greets someone who is about to enter Govindpur, the almost deserted tribal hamlet where inhabitants have undergone some excruciating upheaval in their lives in recent times. Many of the residents have died prematurely, the main reason being renal failure which prompted some nine families to establish another village about one kilometer away from the hamlet under the jurisdiction of Kamtala gram panchayat in Bheempur Mandal of Adilabad district in Telangana.
Gond inhabitants are clueless about the cause of renal failure among them and have come to believe that the habitation is haunted. Individual families had begun migrating to other villages like Jendaguda and Rampur since deaths began haunting Govindpur in 2008.
The incidence, which puts the deaths at 12 in the last few years, some villagers put the figure at a high of 30, has spared no elder in the habitation which originally had 45 families. The families of Kumra Bheembai, who migrated to Jendaguda lost as many as six seniors and that of Marapa Kavita who now lives in the newly established village has lost four elders in the family, all brothers.
At present, there are at least 4 persons who have tested positive for the Kidney problem which includes the village headman or Patel, Marapa Vinod, aged 35 years. A report of a recent survey conducted by the Bheempur primary health center (PHC) with the help of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is awaited which will bring out the actual figure.
"The incidence has only increased in the last three years. This made us quit Govindpur," recalled 35-year-old Mesram Tirupati, the oldest among the Gonds who are living in the new habitation.
Dr. Vijaya Sarathi, Medical Officer Bheempur PHC said no sooner the instance of shifting of the tribal villagers from Govindpur came to notice about a week ago, a medical camp was set up as well as lab samples of drinking water from local sources and blood samples of the 42 inhabitants were collected.
"Our team including officials from the Water Supply department and the ICMR even counseled the villagers about the abuse of liquor and ill effects of pesticide inhalation during sprays in the agriculture field besides cautioning them on abuse of painkillers like paracetamol and diclofenac," he added.
Deaths due to renal failure are being recorded in the agency Mandals and villages of Adilabad and Kumram Bheem Asifabad district for the last few years. The incidence seems to have peaked in 2019 when deaths were reported from Gadiguda, Narnoor, Indervelli, Sirikonda Bheempur, and Ichoda Mandals in Adilabad district and Kanchanpalli, Loddiguda, Vanariguda, and Lingapur in Lingapur Mandal in KB Asifabad district.
All the deaths, scores of them noticed and scores which went unnoticed, have a common factor in the abuse of painkillers by the deceased persons. Every tribal household has a buffer stock of either paracetamol or diclofenac tablets or both which are consumed every day indicating addiction to the medicines.
In June 2019, a team of doctors from Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad studied the incidence of various diseases among Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) like Kolam, Thottie, and Manne. The study based at Urnoor found that a high of eight percent of youngsters between the age group of 6 years and 10 years were found to be suffering from the deadly kidney ailment.
The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Utnoor, has certainly taken notice of this fact. "We are planning to take up a drive to curb abuse of the painkillers and address any other causal factor," revealed K. Varun Reddy, the ITDA Project Officer.