Hundreds from Kasaragod march in Thiruvananthapuram demanding AIIMS

AIIMS march
From the march organised by the AIIMS Kasaragod People's Collective in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Hundreds of men, women, and children from the Kasaragod district marched to the State Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday urging the government to set up the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Kerala's northernmost district.

According to them, Kasaragod lags behind the remaining 13 districts in healthcare because of the non-availability of high-quality hospitals.

The state government recently announced that the AIIMS allotted to Kerala would be set up at Kinassery in Kozhikode district that has one of the best medical colleges in the state and many well-equipped private hospitals.

Campaigns for an AIIMS in Kasaragod gathered momentum in social media and it resulted in the formation of an organisation - AIIMS Kasaragod People's Collective. Wednesday's march was organised by this forum.

"Please include Kasaragod in the list of proposed sites for the new AIIMS," read the banner of the march that began from Martyrs' Column at Palayam at 10 am and culminated at the State Secretariat at 1 pm.

Human rights activist CR Neelakantan inaugurated the march. The people's collective's chairman KJ Saji presided.

Prominent writer Ambikasuthan Mangad, while addressing the gathering, warned the government that the protest will intensify if the government fails to heed their demand. "You cannot ignore us anymore," he said.

Kasaragod's backwardness
People of Kasaragod, the northernmost district of Kerala depend heavily on Mangaluru city in neighbouring Karnataka for healthcare.

The trend, however, began to change after Karnataka unilaterally decided to close its borders with Kerala apparently to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the last two years. During that period, 24 people from the district died after they were denied entry to Mangaluru.

Besides, Kasaragod is the only district in the state that bore the brunt of Endosulfan. The aerial spraying of the pesticide on cashew plantations owned by the government's Plantations Corporation of Kerala had killed hundreds of people. Scores of babies were born with deformities who need permanent medical care.

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