These 'stone age' villages out of sight for DK or Chikmagalur

These 'stone age' villages out of sight for DK or Chikmagalur

For decades now, life has remained almost standstill for over 110 families with a population of about 1,000 people at Malavathige village in Belthangady taluk.

When the development is taking place in a fast pace in the outside world, the habitants at Yelaneeru, Bangrabalige, Badamane and Guthyadka which come under Malavanthige Gram Panchayat in Kuduremukh National Park limits have simply witnessed the passing time with no much progress in their lives.

Life is hard for these villagers due to the lack of road connectity, electricity, school, hospital and other basic facilities. Though these villages come under Belthangady taluk, the villagers here are mostly dependent on Samse town in Kalasa taluk in Chikmagalur district, for their daily needs. It is almost a hurculean task for them to reach Belthangady as they have to walk for about 8 kms on foot road to Didupe and catch a bus to the taluk headquarters. Though a government bus has been recently introduced from Yelaneer to Ujire, in response to their long standing demand, it takes minimum two hours for them to reach Ujire through the long route on which the bus plies.

On the other hand, a rough walk for about four-five kilometers on the unasphalted steep road takes them to Samse town, on which the villagers are mostly dependent on.

Left in lurch

Among the four villages, Malekudiyas residing in Bangarabalige tribal habitation who own small pieces of land and earn their livelihood are the most troubled lot. Of the 10 Malekudiya families, nine houses are located on the other side of Netravati river which seperates Yelaneeru from Bangarabalige. Rainy season brings miseries to these families as the handmade wooden bridge hanging on the river is submerged, making it impossible for the people to cross the river and reach Samse and vice versa for days together.

A resident, Babu Malekudiya said the villagers face problem specially during health illness, due to lack of road connectivity. “The patients have to be literally carried on shoulders, crossing the bridge to reach Community Health Centre at Kalasa which is 10 km away.
Though we can hire jeeps for rent, it is too costly and we can not afford them,” he says.
The children from these four villages rarely go to anganawadi as the parents will have to walk along with them to and fro to Samse.

Their repeated demands seeking basic infrastructure developments for their villages including road connectivity and electricty turned futile when the government tagged the three villages of falling under Kuduremukh National Park. Even as the government is contemplating to rehabilitate the population from the villages, these villagers are still in a confused state over deciding on vacating their lands.

In fact, a resolution was passed in Malavanthige Gram Panchayat meet on September 9, 2011 where the members made a list of developmental work for the region and forwarded the same to the district administration.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Malavanthige GP member Arun Kumar said that though majority of the families in Yelaneeru (mostly Jains) and Badamane (Vokkaliga habitants) are ready to vacate the forest if given proper compensation, Malekdiyas at Bangarabalige have not made up their mind for the same, as their life is dependent on forest land. “If the villagers from other two villages vacate the land, Malekudiyas may face trouble as the life of all three villagers is inter-dependent,” he observed.

A young farmer, Sathish Malekudiya said he and his tribal mates were not really interested to vacate their land as they and their ancestors have been living there for over three centuries.

 “Though we do not want to vacate this land and opt for rehabilitation, at times we feel it is better to be rehabilitated than living a secluded place here. Apart from the road and electricty problem, we are also facing problems from wild animals including elephants and tigers that destroy our plantation and cattle. We are incurring huge loss due to the wild animals menace,” he said.

Babu Malekudiya said that they would think of moving out of the forest only if they are offered with a few acres of land for farming, as compensation.

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