Denied basic necessities for 20 yrs, Kodagu tribe to boycott polls

The residents of Maadu Hati in Kodagu say they have no proper drinking water or sanitation facilities.
Denied basic necessities for 20 yrs, Kodagu tribe to boycott polls
Denied basic necessities for 20 yrs, Kodagu tribe to boycott polls
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For the past 20 years, the tribal community in Maadu Hadi, under B Shettigeri Gram Panchayat limits in Karnataka’s Virajpet is relying on small streams that flow in the mid of the dense forest patch. Their repeated pleas to the concerned authorities have gone unheard and hence, the members of the hamlet have decided to boycotting the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

With no water supply or any other resource, the residents of this hamlet collect rainwater during monsoon. However, they do not have the facility to store the water, and also no mechanism to treat the water. Every day, they travel long distances in the dense forest to collect rainwater that flows as small streams. Sometimes, the villagers dig into the ground to collect water too.

These residents are currently working as labourers in coffee plantations and live at the row houses in various plantations. For the last 20 years, they have been demanding water and basic amenities for their hamlet but in vain. Their protests too have yielded nothing. "We have been living here for over 20 years, yet, we do not own a title deed," complained Mani, a resident of Maadu Hadi.

"Just because we live in tribal hamlets, should we be deprived of basic facilities? We have been struggling for drinking water for the past 20 years, yet no one listens to us. It is better to live somewhere else," says Parvathi, another resident.

Nestled amidst the dense forest, Maadu Hadi is a tiny hamlet with 20 houses that threaten to collapse anytime. Over 40 families live in these precarious houses. Besides, there are 20 or more families who have only plastic tents to call their homes. Although, the concerned gram panchayat has built a few toilets in this hamlet, they have been rendered useless with no water supply. The toilets have no proper doors but and have a thin plastic sheet as a cover.

This is doubly hard for women as they are forced to defecate in the open, risking their lives, especially in the night.

Except for concrete roads, the hamlet has no other facilities. But to find a motorable road, one has to tread 10 kms. Private transport services ply on this road but residents have to shell out a lot more money as the roads are unmotorable. "These roads are nothing but a show of completion of project. Although the government has drawn power lines here, only seven houses are lucky enough to get electricity,” Parvathi adds.

Their woes do not end here. In fact, every day, schoolchildren have to walk for eight km to reach the government school. Even anganwadis are located four km away from the hamlet, which has led to several of them dropping out of school and working in coffee plantations.

"There are over 50,000 tribals living in the district who have been deprived of basic facilities including water, road or even title deed. Despite their protests, the authorities concerned have failed to come up with a permanent plan to address these issues," said Tribals Co-ordination Committee State convener YK Ganesh. He has warned to boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha election as the administration has failed to respond to the people's problems, here.

"Only a handful of people are living in Maadu Haadi. The local gram panchayat should have implemented development works. However, the Tribal Welfare Department has laid down concrete roads in the hamlet and a drinking water project will be implemented at a cost of Rs 6 lakhs soon," explains Tribal Welfare Department officer Chandrashekhar.

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