Nearly, 21 families of kadar tribes were given patta on November 7 by Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise V Senthil Balaji as an alternative for their traditional settlement, which was destroyed in a landslide in August, 2019. Their demand for patta was fulfilled after they held a series of protests against their eviction from the traditional settlement. It was deemed to be one of the rarest incidences of tribals reclaiming their land rights.
But, their happiness was short lived as attempts by the tribal people to raise houses were allegedly opposed by the Forest Department.
“The tribal’s had raised five huts by encroaching the forest land beyond their earmarked area. We removed one hut alone on Friday morning and left the spot after resistance. Also, when we tried to explain them about their encroachment, the tribal people hurled abuses on us and also prevented us from carrying out our work,” said A Manikandan, Forest Range Officer, Manampalli Forest Range.
The tribals broke into argument with the Forest Department staff claiming that they had raised the houses only in their land. As the issue triggered tension, a team of officials led by Village Administrative Officer Vijay Amirtharaj and police visited the spot and held an inquiry.
The revenue department officials said that they have decided to survey the forest land on Saturday to ascertain the exact area given to the tribals. “Thereafter, the tribal families will be allowed to set up their houses,” said an official.