23 families of Kadar tribe temporarily moved to quarters near Valparai

Many elders of the settlement, especially women, have barely come out of the forest in their lifetime.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT_E_MAIL

For the first time, 23 families of the Kallar Kadar tribal settlement, located in the dense woods of Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), were temporarily moved to vacant dwellings near Valparai on Tuesday after the new huts they had erected inside the forest were removed by the Forest Department with the help of the police.

Around 90 members of the ethnic tribe including the elderly, pregnant women and children were moved to 11 unused quarters of a tea estate at Thaimdudi, the nearest human settlement outside forest. They had erected new huts in a plain area of the forest after old huts of their settlement, located around 25 km from Valparai town, were damaged in heavy rain and landslip. A representative of the tribe said that they decided to move to the temporary dwellings at Thaimudi as they “did not want to disobey the Forest Department and the Government”.

“Many elders of the settlement, especially women, have barely come out of the forest in their lifetime. A woman named Saroja (70) fainted after seeing the forest and police squad who came for eviction on Monday,” said S. Thanraj, a tribal rights activist.

While Kadars are listed as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) in Kerala, which ensures them habitat rights under the Forest Rights Act 2006, the same status has not been accorded to the tribe in Tamil Nadu.

“The Forest Rights Act has not been implemented fully in Tamil Nadu and they are yet to have Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights under the Act. Though surveys have been conducted among the tribal settlements in ATR for CFR and other titles, the Government has not issued titles for them under the Act,” said Mr. Thanraj.

As per a list published by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, six tribes namely Irular, Toda, Kota, Kattunayakan, Paniyan and Korumba have PVTG status. Under CFR, the Forest Rights Act ensures customary traditional boundary for every settlement in forests.

“The relocation of the residents is a violation of Tamil Nandu Forest Act 1882, which mandates to serve a notice on the community before eviction. The dwellers had the right to give a reply to the notice that had to be inquired. The relocation is also a violation of the Forests Rights Act, even if they were not given CFR rights. Any violation of the Forest Rights Act is also a violation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as per the 2016 amendment,” said C.R. Bijoy of Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national coalition of forest-dweller organisations.

The tribal people are planning to meet the District Collector who is scheduled to attend a grievance redress meeting at Valparai on August 28.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 10:42:16 AM |

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