KOCHI: The 77 tribal families of Uriyampetty colony in Kuttampuzha panchayat are a disgruntled lot. Their dissatisfaction has grown to such an extent that they have decided to give away their native lands to the government seeking rehabilitation in turn.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the tribal people, which was convened on March 9 under their village head man.It was concluded that they would surrender 600 acres of their land to the government and in lieu of it, they would demand land outside the forest area.
Herald John, Tribal Extension Officer, Edamalayar, said that this is a positive development.“Usually, tribals like to dwell in the interiors of the forest and this made any reform activities for their benefit very difficult to carry out. Several attempts by the government to rehabilitate them were earlier vehemently opposed by them only because they were reluctant to leave their native dwellings. So, the decision has come as a big surprise,” he said.
“They need 608 acres of land in return. They have also demanded compensation for the loss of agricultural produce,” he added.The lack of even the most basic amenities has made life hard to the natives of the Uriyampetty Colony.
Added to this is the wrath of wild animals, which the tribal people have to encounter on a regular basis. “To reach the nearest primary health centre, located in Kuttampuzha panchayat area, we have to travel three hours, and the cost comes to about `3,000 per trip. How could we afford such a huge amount?” asked Ayyavu, a native of the colony.
He said that owing to the lack of medical care in nearby areas, casualties have become a recurring phenomena in the colony.In addition, the residents are deprived of their livelihood by wild elephants that wander into their fields and destroy crops.Herald John further said that the place was reeling under acute water shortage.
“There are no provisions to supply potable water to the interior areas. Education too is a distant dream for the inhabitants of the area, as evident from the increasing number of school dropouts,” he said. Though the community’s decision to move out has been welcomed, officials at the Scheduled Tribes Development Department have voiced apprehensions.
“Such a move is the second of its type. The tribes of Variyam Colony have already made such a move. But their rehabilitation still remains on paper,” an official said.Acting on the decision by the dwellers of Uriyampetty colony, District Collector P I Sheik Pareeth has convened a meeting on March 27.
“The district administration officials have decided to visit the colony. We will compile a detailed report based on the issues after the visit,” Pareeth said.Minister for Welfare of Backward Communities P K Jayalakshmi has also assured that she would soon conduct a detailed study on the matter.
published in The New Indian Express