Discredited politicians like former MLC A.K. Subbaiah are fishing in troubled waters to drum up support for squatters who have overnight occupied forest land inside the Diddalli Devamacchi Reserve Forest in Virajpet taluk.

As many as 577 families occupied the land situated adjacent to the Nagarahole National Park which falls under the buffer zone.

A forest official was quoted as saying: “The huts came up at Diddalli all of a sudden. Keeping in mind the impact of the huts on the movement of wild animals, it was decided to clear it.”

diddalliThe official said majority of these tribals are labourers working in coffee estates at Virajpet, Siddapura, Gonikoppa and surrounding areas. They had submitted an appeal to the Forest department demanding sites on June 20. Initially, 8 huts were constructed at Diddalli. The number increased to 40. By the time, officials visited to conduct a survey on siteless, the number of huts had increased to 577.

 It is said a tribal leader on the promise of providing them the sites had brought the tribal families and asked them to put up huts.

Well-known environmentalist, Praveen Bhargav noted: “To justify the encroachment, it was stated that the people were eligible to get titles under the Forest Rights Act. The truth is that this is not a land grant act as is being made out. It only provides for vesting titles to those tribal people who were in possession of forest land as on 13th December, 2005 and other forest dwellers who have been in continuous possession of forest land for 75 years. This legal position notwithstanding, some activists attempted to confuse the media and political leaders but failed.”

Former MLC Subbaiah who has been fomenting trouble in Kodagu in the recent months, warned that if the government did not sanction land for tribals, the activists would know how to grab it. 

It is a known fact that the area under forest has dwindled following encroachment in Kodagu district which has heightened the man-animal conflict.

It is the duty of the government to provide suitable rehabilitation package for tribals who have been re-located from reserved forests. The Kodagu district administration and forest officials have shown lot of patience in dealing with the tribals. But a humanitarian problem should not be allowed to be hijacked by discredited politicians and Naxal sympathisers.

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3 Responses

  1. Geeta says:

    Very sad state of affairs, with no focussed action on the real woes of the region and the Community. Sporadic attempts at leadership and grabbing attention, only leads to more confusion and distraction from the actual challenges faced by the community due to dwindling forests and continued rampant destruction of natural resources. We are pushing ourselves to the brink of disaster due to this directionless propaganda and sloganeering and it really is time for all to come together as one formidable force to save Kodagu before it is too late!

  2. Sundar Muthanna says:

    It is indeed scary that Naxals have reached Coorg and that some locals seem to be helping them. We cannot allow people (some claiming to be tribals, and some claiming to be from Karnataka, when they are from Kerala) to settle in forest land and let vote seeking politicians to instigate them and get the media to cover it by creating false propaganda with cooked up details.

    Already too much land has been lost. Who are these so called ‘leaders’ who come to Kodagu and demand land? They are not from here. Please tell them to take these so-called tribals to their own home districts and settle them there, if they have so much compassion for them.

    If this continues there will be no forests left to serve as rainfall catchment area that create the Cauvery River. Kodagu does not belong to those who shout the loudest. The regions downstream will suffer without water if the trees are cut frequently in forest areas to settle these people.

    Mandya, Bangalore, Mysore and Tamil Nadu are you listening?

  3. Jeevan Chinnappa says:

    Spineless Governments. Why is the Forest Rights Act still not being implemented in full in the State, Kodagu in particular. The President of India had given his approval for the Act in 2006. No one can falsely claim right under the Act. And, none should try to claim credit for “solving” the problems of tribals. Let the Kodagu District Administration settle the displaced tribals at the denotified forest fringe areas on humanitarian grounds. Or, the Administration can also think of distributing Class “C & D” lands by taking them back from the forest department. Any form of unrest need to be nipped in the initial stage itself.

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