A survey of all villages in Belthangady taluk revealed that untouchability still exists in various forms but not to a great extent, said Rajeev Salian of Nagarika Seva Trust Guruvayanakere here on Monday.

He was speaking during a meeting of the district vigilance and management committee mandated under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules 1995. He said the survey of 4,167 houses in the taluk had revealed that people from Scheduled Castes were still denied entry into the houses of upper castes.

He pointed out that students from these communities found it difficult to gain access to higher education because of the donation menace. He emphasised that there was a need for the Government to ask for an audit of the implementation of various schemes.

Land

Several Dalit leaders, activists and others who attended the meeting complained that lands reserved for Scheduled Castes by the district administration had been encroached upon by others in several places. Having done this, the local bodies claimed that land was not available to give to people from Scheduled Castes when they applied for it. Several others said that Dalits had not been given hakku patras (title deeds) for several years.

Deputy Commissioner Subodh Yadav said that a land survey was under way and that it was only partially completed at present, and said more time would be required to complete the survey. He added that the district administration could either attempt to ensure that the encroached land was returned or to identify other suitable land to give to people of Scheduled Castes. An activist made a request to Mr. Yadav saying,“usually when other land is identified, it turns out to be a hilly terrain. Please do not give us such land.”

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