The Chamarajanagar district administration has ordered a joint survey of the reserve forest near Vaishampalya in Hanur division of the M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary for relocation and rehabilitation of the people of Chengadi village. Deputy Commissioner M.R. Ravi has sought a comprehensive report of the survey by the Forest and Revenue departments, besides an analysis of the pros and cons of the area identified for the relocation.
The Revenue Department was also directed to rectify any anomalies and refine the records pertaining to the extent of landholding by individuals and the families identified for relocation. He also called for sorting out any discrepancies in the records in the initial stages itself so as to pave the way for the smooth relocation of the families.
It was originally suggested Chikkallur village for the rehabilitation but it was decided to relocate the people of Chengadi to Vaishampalya near Hanur as it was more feasible, said V. Yedukondalu, Deputy Conservator of Forests, M.M. Hills. Though nearly 200 tribal families living in the remote village cut off from mainstream since centuries have periodically sought their relocation, it gained official traction in 2018 after which the State government issued an official order notifying the relocation in 2020. But the pandemic delayed the exercise.
A review meeting was conducted on Saturday to expedite the process and the location survey and a report on the pros and cons of the area would be submitted by the third week of August. In all, 230 families have sought relocation as the existing geographical location of the village does not facilitate development and the terrain was inaccessible.
Chengadi is almost 12 km deep inside the forest boundary and people have to trek long distances for basic amenities. The remoteness and inaccessibility is such that in the late 1990s forest brigand Veerappan used to move without any fear of the Special Task Force searching for him. The body of the former Minister Nagappa, who was abducted by Veerappan in 2002 and was subsequently shot, was also found in Chengadi forests.
The rehabilitation entails acquisition of 178.9 hectares and the State government has sanctioned ₹35 crore for the purpose. A project consultant has also been roped in to provide inputs for the new model village in which the construction will be eco-friendly; emphasis would be on tapping green energy and rainwater harvesting, apart from promoting community farming. A primary health centre, school, and anganwadi should also be incorporated in the design for rehabilitation, said Mr. Ravi.
Once implemented, the exercise would be a model for similar rehabilitation schemes of a few more remote villages such as Padusalanattha, Tokkere, etc.