Development is yet to reach the Adivasis living in the Scheduled Tribe colony here, along the Kodagu-Kerala border, as they do not have access to basic amenities such as drinking water, proper shelter and food.
“We have been living here for over a century,” said Chellamma, an Adivasi woman who looked over 80 years old.
The men, who work in the forests of Kodagu and Kerala earn Rs. 150 a day. One third of the money goes into buying liquor when they return home, says Omane, one of the women in the colony.
A group of 12 malnourished children who spotted the cameramen, posed for photographs. Most of them do not go to school. Instead, they collect water from the nearby river.
The tank built several years ago has not seen a drop of water. There is a defunct borewell towards the edge of the road.
Toilets constructed nearby are no longer used as they do not have roofs, doors or water. Their “huts” are built with soft stones available in the area; two such houses have already been destroyed in the rain.
“We boast of so many achievements in all fields, but we have not been able to bring these tribal people into the national mainstream,” said the former MLC A.K. Subbaiah who was present. The Adivasis do not have ration cards as one of the Makutta Gram Panchayat members representing the area reportedly took them away more than three years ago.
“We do not get ration or kerosene. We go to Kootupuzha in Kerala to buy rice paying more than Rs. 25 a kg,” Puppy, an Adivasi woman, said.
There are no hospitals nearby, and the sick have to be shifted to Iritty or Kannur in Kerala, she added.
Mr. Subbaiah said the plight of the tribal people appeared to be a clear case of violation of basic human rights and the Government should be blamed for it.
The State Government should make efforts to implement the Scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forests Rights) Act of 2006, he added.
Keywords: Rural development issues