Six houses for 23 families

Location IconCoimbatore district, Tamil Nadu

Kallar is an Adivasi village settlement located in the Anaimalai Hills, also known as the Elephant Mountains of Tamil Nadu. The Kaadars are one of the five Adivasi communities living in Anamalai and were formerly a nomadic tribe. There are six Kaadar settlements: Nedungundram, Udumanpaarai, Eathakuzhy, Erumaipaarai, Kallar, and Kavarkal. The Kallar settlement is around 7 kilometres from Vazhparai town and comprises 23 families. The community cultivates pepper plants on their farms (their primary source of income) and plant fruits and vegetables on their ranch for self-consumption. Occasionally, they procure nectar from the deep forest and sell it.

Since 2017, the Kallar village has faced continuous landslides, forcing the Adivasi community to move away from the forests. They now stay in government-provided settlements—six houses for 23 families. “We don’t have enough space to keep our belongings, not even enough space to sleep. The people of the entire village hope to return to their homeland,” they say.

Despite having legal rights under the Forest Rights Act, the forest department is trying to relocate them to the plains by referring to the Wildlife Protection Act. Even after filing 70 petitions to the collector’s office, nothing has been done. The officials came to survey the land, but it has been six months and there has been no progress. “It is not a new problem. The tribals have always had to face problems when it comes to their rights. Whatever the government decides, it will reach us only if we protest and some never get it,” people of this village say.

The villagers of Kallar question if they have been neglected because their community has minimal vote share during elections. (Tamil Nadu has less than one percent Adivasi population.)

Suwathy Venugopal is a reporter who covers stories on marginalised communities, the environment, and politics. The story was originally published by TwoCircles.net on January 31, 2021.

Know more: Learn more on how development excludes Adivasi communities.


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