Nagarahole tribals launch indefinite protest seeking basic amenities

Hanagodu: More than 200 tribal families have launched a night-long indefinite protest at Nagapura Tribal Rehabilitation Centre (coming under Nagarahole National Park) demanding the promised facilities from the Centre. Their strike entered the fourth day this morning. The tribals have stated that they will not withdraw the protests till their demands are met.   

The tribals are alleging that they have been neglected by the District Administration as it has not provided any facilities after evicting them from forests.  The tribals are protesting in front of Tribal Ashrama School at  Nagapura.

Over 259 tribal families, who stayed in the Nagarahole forests depending on forest produce for their livelihood, were evicted from the forests in 1999. According to tribals, while evicting them from forests, they were promised a package deal of 5-acre agricultural land for every family, development works worth Rs. 1 lakh and a reserved space of 100 hectares under community development for them to collect firewood and grass.

They said that none of the promises have been fulfilled and the 731 hectares that has been reserved for their use under community development has been encroached upon by the high and mighty.

The encroachment issue has been brought to the notice of the district and taluk administrations and the forest officials many times but no steps to reclaim the land have been taken so far, the tribals said. The rehabilitation centres face the wrath of wild elephants that destroy houses and thatched roofs.

The Forest Department has not taken any steps to reduce or prevent wild elephant menace. Added to this there is severe water shortage, they said.

A Primary Health Centre was established when P. Manivannan was the Deputy Commissioner.

Though the building was constructed over seven years ago, it has remained locked ever since. In the absence of Anganawadis and good schooling, many children are working as labourers in fields and estates, they alleged.

Tribals have said that they have no alternative but to protest. Their leaders Veena Prabhu, J.K. Thimmaiah, J.A. Harish, J.A. Sannappa, B.K. Somu, J.B. Somanna and others were   present.