Tucked in the ridges of hills and huddled into dilapidated colonies, the scattered Koraga community in the district is demanding housing and title deeds – both critical for empowerment.

According to the 2001 census, Koragas number just 4,167 in the district – forming an electoral minority. Though the primitive tribal group members say they have benefited from schemes of the Integrated Tribal Development Project, especially in health and education, they are still beset with problems of housing and basic amenities for their colonies.

Nine families, or around 50 people, reside in crumbling houses lining the hill face close to Malali in Mangalore taluk. Nearly two decades ago, the families were thrown out by their landlords. With no place to go they “squatted” on government land along the hill, said Gulabi Koraga. “The panchayat had built us the houses, but since then it has started to crumble. Our house may collapse next monsoon and I fear for the safety of my (four) children,” she said.

Basic amenities such as drinking water and toilets were lacking, while a majority of houses did not have electricity, said Ratna Koraga.

In Gundapadavu near Bajpe, conditions are a tad better for the 29 Koraga families. Housing is still an issue.

As Koragas were an important community for the ITDP, the new MP should ensure the scheme was implemented in full, and the problems in housing – including low subsidy component and more flexible regulations – should be sorted out, said Ramesh Koraga, a member of the Koraga Abhivrudhi Sangha.

He said it was critical to ensure Koragas were given title deeds as that would help build social capital.

“We do not get the benefits of ST reservations as most of the opportunities in employment and education are taken by communities that are numerically more powerful and educationally more forward,” said Prashant Anikunder from Gundavapadavu.

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