While the Forest Department quotes provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act to prevent development of a mud road leading to a hutment in Kudremukh National Park, it has illegally cut trees to widen a road inside the park, an activist has alleged.
Dalita Hakku Samiti member Eshwari was speaking at a meeting to address the grievances of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes here on Tuesday.
She said that 34 tribal families living in Alamba, a hamlet in the national park, had for long been demanding that the 3.5-km long narrow road running through the national park that connects to Naravi be repaired. But the department had not given permission to start work on the road, citing provisions of the Act.
A few weeks ago, Ms. Eshwari alleged, the department cut down huge trees to make a broad mud track that runs deep into the park.
“When the law does not allow to improve a road that helps tribal people, how can the department overlook it and widen the road for its use? How can the law be different for us and the department?,” she asked. Ms. Eshwari accused the Forest Department of not showing concerns for the tribal people, who were facing problems because of lack of proper access to Naravi, the village they would have to frequent for ration and other needs.
L. Shekar from the Aadivasi Hakkugala Samanvaya Samiti accused the Forest Department of paying meagre salary for tribal people deployed in the national park for keeping watch on the movement of animals. They work for 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and also in throughout the night but are paid only Rs. 8,000. These tribal people were being exploited, he alleged.
Activist Raghuveer Sooterpet said that employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes were not being promoted in private and aided colleges.
Superintendent of Police Sharanappa S.D., District Social Welfare Officer Santosh Kumar and Additional Superintendent of Police Vincent Shantkumar were present.