Tribals tilling land on Jawadhu hills under forest dept glare

Published: 10th August 2016 06:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th August 2016 06:17 AM   |  A+A-

VELLORE: While hundreds of youngsters from the Jawadhu Hills of Tiruvannamalai district work in Kerala and Chennai as labourers, tribals who live in the hills have no source of livelihood besides agriculture. They also allege that they get tortured and receive daily threats from the forest officials.

The issue came to light on Monday after the Thamizhaga Adivasi Amaippugalin Kootamaippu (TAAK) lodged a complaint against the forest officials for threatening the tribals to vacate the land where they cultivate crops in the hills. In a complaint given to the Jamunamarathur Police Station, the association’s State President T Venkatesan said his organisation had been campaigning to implement the Forest Rights Act 2006 in Tamil Nadu, which enables the tribals to get ‘patta’ for their land.

“Local forest officers abuse us for cultivating food - the only vocation we know - as we demanded patta for the land we have been cultivating for over 40 years. They even threaten us, saying we would face the consequences for our actions,” said Venkatesan, a tribal.

Upon visiting Jawadhu Hills, Express found that forest officials did threaten the locals, pressuring them to stop cultivating. “The officials told me to stop cultivating ragi and corn as they plan to plant trees under some forestation scheme. If I didn’t clear the land, I would have been charged with stealing guns. ‘It’s easy for us to plant our guns in your house’, one of them told me,” said A Sudhakar, whose family has lived in Eattimaruthur village, for three generations.

The situation is no different in other villages. In all, about one lakh tribals live in 273 villages, in 11 panchayats - Kovilur, Palamarathur, Melsilambadi, Tenmalai Athipattu, Puliyur,  Kallathur, Oorgoundanur, Kuttkarai, Veerapanur, Nammiampattu and Kanamalai.

“We have submitted about 3,000 applications for pattas. As prescribed in the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006, they were approved by the village-level Forest Rights Committee; but no action has been taken so far,” said Venkatesan.

However, forest officials denied these allegations and claimed that they would not allow tribals to encroach forest land. District Forest Officer, Tiruvannamalai (North), R Kannappan, said many tribals from Jawadhu Hills are not eligible for pattas as per the Act since they own over four acres of land.

Stay up to date on all the latest Tamil Nadu news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp