Trouble brewing as tribal families refuse to vacate Edamalayar hostel

The families had migrated from Arakappu settlement located in the deep forest to Vishali Cave at Edamalayar on July 5 demanding rehabilitation at a place with road access.

Published: 06th October 2021 06:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th October 2021 06:10 AM   |  A+A-

Tribals belonging to the Kadar community living in makeshift tents made of plastic sheets and twigs

Representational image| Albin Mathew

Express News Service

KOCHI: With schools set to reopen after one-and-a-half years, trouble is brewing for the departments of Tribal Welfare and Forest as the 12 tribal families accommodated temporarily at the tribal hostel in Edamalayar are refusing to vacate.

The families had migrated from Arakappu settlement located in the deep forest to Vishali Cave at Edamalayar on July 5 demanding rehabilitation at a place with road access. The families were evicted the next day by the forest department and temporarily accommodated at the tribal hostel in Edamalayar.

As the schools will reopen on November 1, the tribal welfare department has to make arrangements for 42 children from Thalukandam and Ponganchuvadu colonies who are students of the Edamalayar government primary school. As the tribal families are refusing to vacate, the department has sought government intervention.

The government had deputed a team of officers from departments of tribal welfare, revenue and forest to visit Arakappu and file a report on addressing the grievances of the families. It was found that of the 42 families at Arakappu, only 12 are demanding rehabilitation. The group of 39 people, including tribal head Thankappan Panchan, said that the colony has turned unsafe due to landslides and increasing attack by wild animals. However, other families are not willing to move out as each family has 15 acres of land.

The panel had submitted a report to the government recommending construction of a road to Arakappu and providing basic amenities. However, the families say they will not return to Arakappu. “There is no provision to allot new land for tribal families that surrender their land. The government has assured to construct a road which will help them bring construction materials and build pucca houses. They can also get government aid for houses under Life Mission. We are not planning a forceful eviction but we have to make arrangements for the children whose education has been affected due to Covid,” said Tribal welfare officer Anil Bhaskar.

‘Oct 15 deadline’
According to the families, the department has set an October 15 deadline for vacating the hostel. “The families are not willing to return to Arakappu. They are ready to surrender their land at Arakappu and are
demanding allocation of land at Panthapra colony in Kuttampuzha panchayat. It is a question of life and death for the families, and the government should adopt an empathetic approach,” said Adivasi Aikya
Vedi state president Chithra Nilambur.


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