MYSURU: They don’t have work or wages. They are running out of food. They cannot go back to their native place, because no transportation is available. They cannot call up anyone as there is no mobile network. This sums up the situation of around 200 Soliga tribals stranded at coffee estates of Kodagu and Karnataka-Kerala border. They had migrated from tribal Hadis of Chamarajnagar after Sankranti to work in coffee estates.
Many of them are unlettered and have no access to television or any other source of information to understand the gravity of the situation they are in, following the coronavirus outbreak. Dasegowda, a tribal from Lokanaalli in Hanur taluk in Chamarajnagar district, said his group of 20 members, stranded at Vonti Angadi village near Madikeri, is desperate for someone to arrange transportation or provide foodgrains. He said they have not been able to get any help as they are out of mobile network coverage area and could not reach out to government officials to seek food.
Gowda appealed to the district administrations of Chamarajnagar and Kodagu to help them return to their villages. Somanna, another member of the group, said the owners of coffee estates where they worked washed their hands of the situation once the government declared a 21-day lockdown. They did not bother to provide them with food for a few days, he said.
He said many other migrant tribals stranded in Madikeri, Virajpet and other places are in a similar situation. The tribals said the delay in the distribution of foodgrains under the public distribution system made them migrate to coffee estates for earning a living till the onset of monsoon. However, tribal leader Bommaiah has managed to bring the situation of the migrants to the notice of government officials in Chamrajnagar and Kodagu districts. Two groups are given foodgrains at Srimangala and Suntikuppa villages, he said. But others are not as lucky.