This tribal community had to spend Rs 250 to reach shop for free ration
Kalanjoor (Pathanamthitta): “Nobody comes here for anything, so why should we fear the coronavirus? What we need is food and work in the forest,” says Rajan, chief of Malambandara tribe residing in Kizhakke Vellamthetti inside the Naduvathumuzhi forest range.
21 families belonging to the tribe reside in the area. According to Rajan, officials from the tribal welfare department came to them with a grocery kit containing nine items only once in the last four months. At times, several organisations came here with vegetables. Other than that, nobody has the time to remember us, lamented Rajan.
Free ration costs Rs 250
The area where these families reside is the border of Kalanjoor, Pathanapuram and Piravanthur. Normal vehicles do not reach here.
The tribals belong to Piravanthoor panchayat in Kollam district but their ration shop is located at Chitalvetti in Pathanapuram panchayat. These families need to spend minimum Rs 250 to reach the ration shop.
Moreover, if they have to go to Piravanthoor panchayat for any official needs, they have to spend Rs 600 to get a vehicle and travel through. The other option is to trek through the forest for 5 kilometres before taking two vehicles to reach the panchayat.
Kunjumon and family need a new house
Kunjumon, one of the members of the tribe, is residing in a dilapidated house. The house is in such bad condition that both Kunjumon and wife Chandrika are struggling to keep the books of their Class 7 daughter getting wet from rain.
The house that the family resides is very close to an area where elephants damage crops on a regular basis. If one of the jumbos turns its attention towards the house, these three human lives are likely to be buried inside their own house.
Kunjuman had been running from pillar to post at the panchayat with a request to build a new house, but in vain. “Not any more. We are fed up. Hopefully, the officials would understand our plight when we die inside our house,” said Kunjumon and Chandrika.
No job, no income
These tribal families depend on the forest for everything including work. However, there is no work in the forest nowadays and they are struggling to make ends meet. We are surviving because of the MGNREGA works.
No tribal gatherings
Rajan said that it has been a long time since the tribal gathering (oorukoottam) was held. It is during these gatherings that officials come to the area and take decisions regarding the welfare of the tribe. Moreover, the solar fencing set up to keep wild animals at bay was damaged several years ago and needs to be repaired as soon as possible.