Their main demands include basic facilities, roads and health

In the history of the long tribal struggle in Attappady, it is going to be the first time that the particularly vulnerable Kurumba tribes, living deep inside the forest, will be marching to the Palakkad Collectorate on Tuesday.

Their main demands are the implementation of Forest Rights Act, access to basic facilities like road, school, hospital, drinking water and electricity.

They wanted the proper implementation of the ongoing Rs. 25 crore Kurumba Package by the State government. Lack of access to basic facilities have forced the Kurumba tribals to travel over 130 kms to reach the Palakkad Collectorate with their demands.

There is little to show for the crores spent by successive governments to improve the lot of the Kurumba tribes, said Rajendra Prasad, president of ‘Thampu’, a tribal organisation. The Kurumba tribals, numbering 2,250, belonging to 596 families living in 19 hamlets (‘Ooru’), mainly in Pudur grama panchayat at Anavai, live in inhuman conditions, he said.

The 13th Finance Commission had allotted Rs.148 crore to the State for the socio-economic development of vulnerable tribal groups.

Special package

Out of this, Rs.25 crore was allotted for implementing a special package two years back. But only 11 out of the 19 hamlets are covered by this scheme. Its implementation has gone awry and what the tribal people got was some free rice and other minor facilities, he said. Earlier also many tribal development programmes have been implemented but the Kurumba tribes still live in abject poverty and face social, economic, cultural, and sexual exploitation, Mr. Prasad said. The package did not take steps to give the Kurumba tribes access to drinking water, health, sanitation, roads, education, transport, housing, and other basic amenities. Though Kerala was declared a totally electrified State by the previous LDF government, none of the Kurumba hamlets have electricity, he said.

From Galazi hamlet, they have to travel 60 km through forests infested with wild animals, cross the Bhavani river, and walk 24 km to reach Pudur grama panchayat and to the nearest ration shop .

From Ooradam hamlet, they have to travel 70 km through Tamil Nadu to reach Pudur grama panchayat office.