The families of Havugolla, a tribal community, staying put in makeshift tents at Balekoppa in N.R. Pura taluk have been fighting for land to build houses for over two decades. They have spent years visiting different offices seeking land, but their demand has not been fulfilled yet.
As many as 70 people spread over 18 families are living in tents without basic amenities. During the rainy season and winter months, they suffer without a proper shelter. The community is known for capturing snakes and they keep moving from place top place. But the younger generation does not know the job. They settle in one place and work in estates as farm labourers.
Ramesh, 32, a father of three, told The Hindu that his parents moved to Kaimara about 25 years ago. Since then, the community has been seeking land to settle down. “All through my life, I have been staying in tents. I don’t know if we will get to move to a proper house in my lifetime,” he said. He also alleged that the officers identify land in remote areas, with no proper transport facilities. “If we stay in a remote area, how will we get to work?” he asked.
Earlier, they had put up tents near Kaimara in the taluk. The death of two youths of the community in July 2018 forced them to leave the place. Worried about the deaths, the community leaders visited temples of their deities. It is said the deities, through the priests who invoke them, told the people to shift immediately to avoid more deaths. Suddenly, they all moved to different places. The Hindu had carried a report on this. Later, the local administration brought them back, assuring them of a proper place to stay. Temporarily, the N.R. Pura taluk administration allowed them to stay on the premises of a defunct school at Balekoppa.
N.R. Pura tahsildar H.M. Nagaraj said land was identified for the community on survey number 179 of Nagalapura panchayat and was handed over to the panchayat for further processing. “However, there were many trees on said land. The panchayat sought permission to cut them, but did not get it from the Forest Department,” he said.
Subsequently, the taluk administration identified another plot of land at Aralikoppa village for the community. “The process of reserving the land for the community is still under way. They will get it soon,” the official said.