TAMIL NADU

Dispute over proposed construction of community hall

D. Radhakrishnan

Kota tribal community seeks intervention of Collector

Udhagamandalam: The Kota tribal community of the Nilgiris has urged the district administration to resolve a dispute over the proposed construction of a community hall inside the Nehru Park at Kotagiri by an organisation representing the Badaga community.

In a representation made to the Nilgiris Collector, Anandrao V. Patil, on Monday, Kota leaders pointed out that despite their opposition the Kotagiri Panchayat had recently resolved to hand over a piece of land in the Nehru Park to the Porangadu Seemai Nala Sangam.

Seeking the intervention of the district administration, the Kotas pointed out that they were upset over the decision of the Panchayat to let a particular community put up a structure in a public place.

Since time immemorial they had been staying at Kotagiri and they were occupying the controversial land before it became the property of the Panchayat. Their temple was located nearby. Over the last about three decades attempts made by various agencies, including the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation to occupy it had been thwarted by them.

Questioning the wisdom of giving away public properties to various communities, they said that the practice should not be encouraged.

Mr. Patil asked the authorities concerned to look into the matter and submit a report to him.

Later speaking to The Hindu, a prominent member of the Kota community C.K. Raju pointed out that Nehru Park was to Kotagiri what the Government Botanical Garden was to Ooty and Sim’s Park was to Coonoor. Hence, any part of such a place should not become the private property of any community.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Porangadu Seemai Nala Sangam, A. Kari Gowder, has in a memorandum to the district administration claimed that the land referred to as ‘Sellakkal’ had for the past about 150 years been used by the Badagas in the area to resolve issues. It was considered to be a sacred spot.

In view of this, while forming the Nehru park, Sellakkal had been excluded. The construction of a community hall there was a long standing demand of the Badagas in Kotagiri area. Lands belonging to the Panchayat in various parts of the town have been allotted for construction of temples, halls, educational institutions, offices etc.

The Sangam represents about 120 villages in Kotagiri and surroundings. The proposed hall would benefit about 1.25 lakh villagers.

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