Success for tribal land struggle

Light finally:A family at the Kadappara tribal settlement near Mangalam Dam in Palakkad.— Photo: K. K. Mustafah

Light finally:A family at the Kadappara tribal settlement near Mangalam Dam in Palakkad.— Photo: K. K. Mustafah

After more than six months of indifference on the part of Revenue and Forest authorities and threats of eviction by the police and district authorities, 19 families of the Malaya tribal community at Kadappara, near the Mangalam dam, heaved a sigh of relief on Thursday with the State government agreeing to allocate 14.67 acres of reserve forestland which they occupied as part of the protracted agitation.

District Collector P. Marikutty, who had earlier threatened forcible eviction of 75 members of the 19 families which had a harrowing existence due to the lack of cultivable land, reached the strike venue and informed them that the occupied land would be divided equally among the families.

Official process

A sub-divisional committee comprising representatives of Forest, Revenue and SC/ST departments apart from people’s representatives would meet soon to finalise the official process in this regard.

The tribal community have been demanding allocation of the land under Forest Rights Act. The struggle started in November last year and the agitating families were living in temporary sheds in the occupied land since January 15.

As none of the tribal members could go outside for work as the strike required their presence, they faced extreme hardship in sustaining themselves.

It was a ‘struggle support committee’ that helped them meet the basic needs by initiating a fund drive among the residents outside the settlement.

“We were forced to live in 40 cents of rocky land all these years. There were 18 huts and 23 graves on such a small patch and no cultivation was possible over the rocks. As far as the dead were concerned, there was no burial ground. We had no option but to put up graves in the close proximity of houses,” said Mathu, a tribal woman, while narrating the situation that forced them to go on the land occupation struggle.

Surplus land

“Though at present classified as forestland, the occupied area was surplus land taken back by the government from a local landlord. The land has no character of a forest and its four boundaries are agricultural lands occupied by settlers from Kottayam and Ernakulam districts,” said Velayudhan, a tribal man.

He said the success of the struggle would inspire similar movements across the State.

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Printable version | Aug 19, 2022 4:46:19 am |