Malaya tribals’ struggle for land remains unresolved

Livelihood issues:The residents of the Moorthikunnu settlement at Kadappara in Palakkad. —Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Livelihood issues:The residents of the Moorthikunnu settlement at Kadappara in Palakkad. —Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Though it completed 100 days on Sunday, the land struggle initiated by members of Moorthikunnu settlement of Malaya tribal people at Kadappara near Mangalam Dam continues unresolved because of the indifferent attitude of the Revenue and Forest authorities.

Despite an order from the District Collector to award the occupied land to 75 members of 19 tribal families involved in the struggle, the solution remains distant in the absence of constitution of a sub-divisional committee comprising representatives of Forest, Revenue and SC/ST Departments apart from people’s representatives.

Though officials had promised that they would get the nod of the Election Commission to constitute the committee, no action was taken in this regard.

The agitating families are living in temporary sheds in the occupied land since January 15.

Extreme hardship

As none of the tribals can go outside for work as the strike requires their presence, they face extreme hardship in sustaining themselves. It is a ‘struggle support committee’ that helps them meet basic expenses 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,” explained Mathu, a tribal woman, while narrating the situation that forced them to go on a land occupation struggle. The tribals are seeking ownership over 22 acres of vested forestland in the locality under the Forest Rights Act.

“Though presently 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,” points out Velayudhan, a tribal man.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 12:35:20 am |