In a quaint village named Muroor in Kundapura, live the Marli Koragas. One of the most marginalised communities in Dakshina Kannada, the members of this tribe have difficulties in accessing the most basic amenities.
Located about 15 km away from Kaltodu village in the taluk, the only way to get to the village is through a private vehicle.
Unless you have one of your own, it is difficult to convince auto drivers to take you to Muroor. This is because there are no roads, only mud paths carved in to reach the village.
On a bad day - which is most of the time - one would have to walk all the way to Muroor from Katodu. After the long and tiring walk, when one has entered the village, the journey is hampered by a stream. Without a bridge to connect the villageâs entry to the Koraga settlement, one has to either wade in to reach the other side or simply be on their way back to where they started.
Social Welfare Minister, H Anjaneya, who had stayed at the village on the night of December 31, 2016, made a grand New Year declaration after witnessing the plight of the Koraga community.
A massive programme was organised in the village with politicians, public servants and the law enforcement personnel present. It seemed like all the governmentâs resources were to be pooled in to help the Koragas.
Minister Anjaneya had assured the Koragas that a road would be constructed from Muroor to Kaltodu to help with better connectivity. He had promised to build a bridge over the stream so that the members of the tribe can cross over easily. He had also promised to construct homes and toilets for all the families.
It has been six months since the Ministerâs visit to the village and the âdevelopmentâ works are barely visible.
The ground reality
To begin with, there are still no roads; at the entrance of the village, stands a giant incomplete bridge, which does not provide any connectivity.
According to 65-year-old Marali, whose home the Minister had stayed in, Anjaneya had ordered the completion of the bridge immediately.
âSome people had come and started work. They built half the structure and never returned. No work has started on the roads. Itâs as if all the assurances and grand gestures were a big joke,â Marali says, while she laughs at the progress of the work.
During his one-night stay at the village, the Social Welfare minister had promised to construct homes for the members of the tribe.
âWork on two houses started a few months ago but they abandoned that as well. Now the half-constructed structures are fit for moss growth,â says Narayana, Maraliâs son.
The Koragas live in houses made of wood and dried coconut leaves. During the rainy season, the house gets drenched, and sometimes collapse.
âEvery time that happens, we have to build the house once again. Thankfully, during this monsoon, none of the houses collapses,â Narayana says.
The residents of the village were also promised a community hall, where handlooms would be set up to promote self-employment. However, the flattened bed of land still waits for the community structure to come up.
âIn our village, the foundation stone for the community hall is considered as a symbol of the false promises made by the government. We donât even know who to approach. We tried getting in touch with the contractor Babu Shetty. We learnt that he had subcontracted the work to another man. He told us that the work had stopped as he had not received payment,â Marali adds.
No schools for kids
In addition, Minister Anjaneya had said that title deeds would be provided to families which were not in possession of one, and also promised to supply electricity to the entire village.
Marali says that there is no electricity in some homes and the Ministerâs words were just an eyewash.
One of the greatest problems faced by the children of this community is the access to a proper school. Kappady village hosts a primary and middle school. With 45 students enrolled currently, the schoolâs head master, Sanjay Gowda, says that most of the Koraga children skip school as it is difficult for them to travel.
âThe bridge is not constructed and Kappady is about 4 km away. It becomes difficult for them to walk up and down,â he says.
âThe Minister had promised to construct a new building for the school. Two years ago, the middle school was started here. Now we have converted a temple into a classroom to make space for the children. Besides, teachers shy away from taking up the posting here because of the lack of connectivity and children do not pursue high school as the closest one is about 20 km away. There are so many problems but no one to address them,â the headmaster rues.
While Minister Anjaneya had promised to give the Koragas two auto rickshaws to ferry the children to school, the autos have not made an appearance in Muroor yet.