Frames from a grim world

TNIE lensman Vincent Pulickal captures the harsh realities faced by tribal communities in Vithura
Shivanandan Kani, 56, with bamboos collected from the forest at a tribal settlement in  Charupara
Shivanandan Kani, 56, with bamboos collected from the forest at a tribal settlement in Charupara

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The settlements appear after an hour’s trek into the forest inland from Vithura. As the huts of the Kani tribespeople emerge out of nowhere, the grim realities they encounter also become visible, as a story waiting to be told.

Many houses here seem half-done, with even the structure erected showing signs of wear and tear. The state government had given Rs 6 lakh to some of the residents who had used the money to start work on their houses. But the funds ran out with the cost escalating after hiccups due to the lack of roads making transportation of building materials quite a cash-guzzling task.

“We were given the land near Kallar that was the venue of the Pottanchira protest. We are 34 families who were given temporary title deeds after the current Pinarayi Vijayan government assumed office. Very few of us were given the first instalment of the housing scheme. However, inconsistency in fund disbursement forced us to stop construction, and the project had to be aborted,” Yashoda, a resident, says, pointing to her unfinished house.

Vindo N, 42, does not even have an unfinished house he can call his own. He lives in a makeshift dwelling in the leftover land. “My health too is waning. I have heart valves that need repair and there is no financial support. My wife does the bread-winning task by working as a housemaid to feed our family, which includes three children,” he says.

Living conditions apart, what ails them and their livelihood is the frequent animal attacks which prevent farming. “Often, there are wild elephant or boar attacks, destroying our crops,” says another resident.

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