Tribals find it tough to make a living

The number of goods they could collect from forest is restricted to 13

July 23, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:59 am IST - Srivilliputtur:

Members of Paliyar tribal community are known for their hard work. Having lived in caves on Sathuragiri hills in the Western Ghats, they know every bit of the hillocks around Thaniparai, where they had roamed around collecting honey, herbs, fruits and tubers.

However, in 1993 when they asked for family cards, they were asked to settle down in the foothills to claim for ration cards.

“Earlier, we lived on the rice (mostly broken grain) and other grocery items we bartered for honey and other herbal plants,” said K. Ramar (60), of Ram Nagar. They used to sell them in Watrap, Sundararajpuram and Akashampatti. However, it was very late for the 50-odd families when they realised that they were losing grip over their traditional rights over forest and collection of forest goods. “Often, the forest officials would not allow us to enter the jungle on one pretext or the other,” said A. Periyakaruppan (44).

But, after the district administration intervened, the tribal families were allowed to collect a list of 13 items, including amla, nanari, honey and some herbal plants.

Tremendous change

However, their standard of living in the foothills saw tremendous change after Ramco Group of companies adopted them.

With the assistance of the State government, the industrial house constructed for them houses with electricity, laid good roads, and helped them get ration cards and community certificates.

Only tribal hamlet

“It is the only tribal hamlet where all the members have been covered for getting Aadhar cards,” said K. Murugesan, Manager of Tribal Welfare Scheme. While the tribal children were rehabilitated and are being given free education through a special hostel established for them, other livelihood needs of the men and women are still at some distance.

Members of two self-help groups for women were given training in mushroom cultivation and making of dhoop sticks.

“But, we are unable to set up the units for want of financial assistance,” said M. Pappathi (30). The women might require around Rs. 3 lakh to set up three sheds for mushroom cultivation and machinery for making herbal dhoop sticks.

It was very late for the tribals when they realised they were losing grip over their traditional rights over forest and collection of forest goods

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