New ‘Theppa’ revives the hopes of Malekudiyas

Last Updated 06 April 2021, 10:39 IST

The ‘Theppa’ (coracle) with a fresh coat of green and blue paint is not a mere mode of transport but a sign of good things to come in the future for the members of indigenous Malekudiya community.

“The new Theppa has revived our hopes and made us optimistic about our future,” said Chandrashekar T R with tears in his eyes while receiving the coracle from Anti Naxal Force (ANF) and Rotary Club Mangalore recently.

For four decades Chandrashekar and his younger brothers Satish and Suresh, residing in Amthi Holekudige hamlet in Kuve Gram Panchayat limits in Mudigere taluk, were dependent on the coracles to cross River Bhadra and access the nearest village.

Their pleas for a road to access the mainland had got little response from district administration and Avanthi estate owner Philomena Peres, former chairperson of State Women’s Commission.

Second generation farmers Chandrashekar and his brother Satish own three acres of land granted to them by the government under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

“Without road access, we cannot sell our produce, access healthcare during emergencies or provide education to children,” said Suresh.

During monsoon, all seven children in the three families drop out of school due to strong currents in River Bhadra. Adding to their woes, one of the bamboo coracles was damaged with a hole and was not usable.

ANF comes to the rescue

ANF personnel came to the rescue of Malekudiya families in Amthi Holekudige hamlet and launched a search for a good coracle under the guidance of ANF Superintendent of Police (SP) Kumarachandra.

Finally, the team succeeded in tracing a good double-layered coracle near Mysuru.

“Generally, coracles of good quality are priced upwards of Rs 25,000. But after a lot of haggling, the seller settled for a reasonable
price. But we were still short of Rs 10,000,” ANF DySP Ganesh M Hegde told DH.

Rotary Club Mangalore responding to the article about the plight of Malekudiyas, published in these columns, decided to donate the remaining amount of Rs 10,000. ANF made arrangements for transporting the Coracle from Mysuru to ANF base in Karkala.

A few days ago, on a bright morning, both ANF DySP Hegde and Rotary Club Mangalore donated the Theppa to the tribals, who were brimming with joy.

Rotary Club Mangalore President Jathin V Attavar, former president Yatish Baikampady, Madhav Suvarna and Karnataka Rajya Malekudiya Sangha Vice President Taranath, who were present on the occasion, wished that the new coracle would bring prosperity and happiness to the tribals.

(Published 27 June 2020, 18:29 IST)

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