20 years of Muthanga firing: Land ownership of tribal families remains only on paper

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People living in Velappankandi carrying drinking water to their houses | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kalpetta: The Muthanga agitation led by the Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha is a significant chapter in the tribal people’s fight for land, which intensified in the 1990s. On 19 February, 2003 a tribal youth Jogi and policeman Vinod died in the clash between the Adivasis and the officials.

The Muthanga package was announced in discussions that were held following the incident. As many as 241 families on the priority list approved by the government and the Gothra Maharashabha have received land so far as part of the pact.

As per the government files, within this month, land distribution under the Muthanga package will be completed. But 90 per cent of these people are waiting to identify their land.

According to the Gothra Mahavasabha's calculation, 825 families had taken part in the agitation. But there are only 281 families on the list approved during the discussions between the government and the Gothra Mahavasabha following the Muthanga firing incident. The 40 families remaining on the list will receive land on February 23 at an event held in Wayanad.

However, only 21 families have started living on the land allotted to them. Of the 241 acres of land for which the title deed has been given, 91.28 per cent is still unused. Of the 21 families that kept the land, only 10 families in Velappankandi were given houses by the government. Most of the families included in the package do not know the proper location of the land allotted to them.

In Velappankandi, 111 families were allotted land, but only 16 families live here. Of them, six are living in tarpaulin sheds. In some areas, even officials are unaware of the proper locations of the land allotted to families.

The reason for the failure of the package is the lapses on the side of the Scheduled Tribes Development Department and the revenue department. The Gothra Mahasabha also failed in effective intervention in the rehabilitation activities.

Only a few of the families had approached the village offices to know the details about the land. Some people who found the land with the help of the village officers, returned as the lands were in isolated areas and there were no basic amenities in the location.

(With inputs from report of Neenu Mohan on Mathrubhumi newspaper)

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