The tribals of Kuttampuzha panchayat are once again left in a lurch, with the government backpedaling on a promise to give proportionate land in lieu of the 1,000 acres which the tribals have surrendered.
Government officials have clarified that they would be giving only around 400 acres of land as compensation. Owing to lack of adequate facilities and safety in the forest, 218 families belonging to Kannamapara, Uriyampetty and Warriam colonies in Kuttampuzha panchayat had earlier decided to hand over their land to the government. The decision is giving sleepless nights to the community members now.
B N Nagaraj, Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattoor, confirmed that the government would not be able to hand over 1,000 acres of land to the tribals. “It is impossible to hand over 1,000 acres of land. The plan is to give two acres of land to each family,” he said.
This is not the first time that the government is backtracking from its promises. Initially it was decided that the tribals would be rehabilitated in Chullipoovan and the community had no qualms about the decision. But the government bungled on its decision and arranged rehabilitation facilities at Punnekkad, a teak plantation near Thattekad. The decision was opposed by the community, and alternate facilities were arranged at Urulanthanni. Thankappan Kamakshi, village headman of the Mannan community of the Varriam Colony said that the deal is unfair, as it does not meet even the basic requirements of the tribals.
“Most of the families which have agreed to surrender land own five acres or above. Hence, it would be an injustice to just give them two acres of land,” he said. Kamakshi expressed surprise at the government’s decision to cut down on the agreed proportion of land.
“The decision was unexpected, as there was no discussion with the government regarding the size of land parcels to be handed over to us.”
Kamakshi added that they have submitted a memorandum to Kozhimala King Raman Rajamannan detailing the vexing situation they are in. “He has asked us to submit a memorandum to the CM as well,” he said.