Tribals' Fight for Land Enters 118th Day

Published: 06th July 2015 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2015 06:33 AM   |  A+A-


NERIYAMANGALAM:For more than three months, a group of over 100 tribals and their families have been living in temporary sheds on a portion of the District Agricultural Farm in Neriyamangalam in a form of protest.

Their stir, demanding the government to protect the land allotted to them from private encroachers, enters 117th day on Monday.

A N Babu, one of the organisers of the protests, said, “We are assembled here to prevent the lands allotted to us through the government’s tribal rehabilitation programme from going into the hands of private property owners.”

Despite obtaining the title deeds for land in Neriamangalam, a lot of tribal families have been living in the rented huts within the same locality, he said.

The government rolled out its tribal rehabilitation programme in Ernakulam in 2002 and identified  120 landless tribal families within the district as beneficiaries. The project aimed to provide them rehabilitation in the 12.8 acres of inhabitable land craved from District Agricultural Farm in Neriamangalam.

“The whole process was done without planning. The government awarded title deeds to the identified 120 families. They were originally land-less tribals engaged in inland fishing in Piravom and they were given lands in Neriyamangalam, which is essentially a forest,” Babu said.

As a result a majority of the families - 76 to be precise - refused the title deed and they were rehabilitated at Edakkattuvayal near Piravom.

Eleven families of the remaining beneficiaries have been paying land tax to the Neriamangalam village office till September 2010, awaiting the government to clear the rest of the formalities and build them houses on the allotted land.

“But after September 2011, the village officer refused to accept our land tax payments because he said our title deeds have been cancelled,” Babu said.

“When we came back to see what happened to our land, we found others cultivating in the property allotted to us. This was what triggered us to launch this protest, which was soon joined by several other tribal families, who claim to have similar problems,” he added.

The protesters have built huts at different part of the 12.8 acres identified under the tribal rehabilitation programme and named the area ‘Thalakkal Chandu Pattika Varga Gramam’.

“The Ernakulam District Collector has ordered the revenue officers and the tribal development officer to ensure that those who have been awarded title deeds in the tribal rehabilitation programme of the government should be given land by April 30. However, that order has not been implemented so far,” said E T Natarajan, the general secretary of Hindu Aikya Vedi, which has pledged their support for the tribal cause.


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