Jeevan Chinnappa

Norms to be followed while moving them given a go by

  • Tribal people shifted to Veeranahosalli have not been given revenue lands with title deeds
  • Veeranahosalli is yet to be declared a revenue village
  • Government order pertaining to the acquisition and rehabilitation process not made public

    Madikeri: The relocation of tribal people from Nagarahole National Park and the reserve forests in Kodagu appears to be ill-judged and ill-timed, according to sources.

    There are several steps to be followed while moving them to rehabilitation centres. Many of them have been given a go by owing to the "interest" shown by certain officials of the Forest Department, sources said.

    Most of the tribal people have been allotted lands in the forests, including in the Nagarahole National Park, which they have been cultivating for long. Their hadis (colonies) have been there for long. While shifting such tribal people, their lands will have to be acquired first, and they be moved out to the rehabilitation centres. "Acquisition" here includes the aspects of paying some compensation to the belongings in the houses that they are vacating. It could even be doors, windows and the like.

    The families that have been moved out will have to be shifted to a place where they are given revenue lands with title deeds. In the case of tribal people shifted to Veeranahosalli from Kodagu forests, including the 30 families from the Madenur-Begur hadi, this has not happened. The families were given five acres of land each initially at Veeranahosalli, but those shifted later were given three acres per family. According to sources, Veeranahosalli is yet to be declared a revenue village.

    Sources said the Deputy Commissioner would give patta (title deed or hakkupatra) only after the Cabinet took a decision on the issue.

    Solatium

    The agencies entrusted with the job of rehabilitating the tribal people reportedly have shown keenness in drawing Rs. 1 lakh in the name of each family for "rehabilitating" them. This sum is given over and above the land grant. The agencies appear to have met the "requirements" out of the amount. The agencies concerned seem to have ignored the issue of solatium that needed to be given to each family. While describing a tribal "family," each adult in a household is considered as one "family unit". This means that if there are four adult members in a family, compensation should go for "four" families. Whereas, only Rs. 1 lakh was "spent" on the families by those involved in the relocation process. It could have led to large withdrawal of money from the Government, sources said.

    The Forest Department and the NGOs have not made public the Government order pertaining to the acquisition and rehabilitation process. Some forest officials reportedly have shown "undue interest" in shifting the tribal people by misleading the people, saying that the Supreme Court order had to be adhered to by August first week. Sources said the officials have failed to produce the court order and its contents.

    Sources criticised the claims of some officials that no forestland is available in the forest fringes in Kodagu to rehabilitate the tribal people, some of whom have expressed willingness to move to fringes, but only within Kodagu district. Certain forest officials have stated that no lands in the forest fringes were available in Kodagu. Because of this, the tribal people have been shifted to Veeranahosalli.

    Tribal families who were shifted to Veeranahosalli have had to work as labourers in their own land while "outsiders" have taken their lands on lease to cultivate tobacco and other crops. No one has the correct information on the number of families living in the park, in the reserve forests, adults, children, willingness to move out or stay out and the like, sources said.

    What is worrying is that the people of the district were not taken into confidence while dealing with important issues such as this.

    Even when naming the Nagarahole National Park as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, people were kept in the dark. If this is one issue, discontent is gradually brewing over the proposal submitted to the Government by certain NGO's to carve out a national park in Kodagu, by bringing together the Brahmagiri, Talacauvery and Pushpagiri wildlife Sanctuaries.

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