At tribal hamlets, rain washes away houses, jobs

A tribal rebuilds his house after the flood destroyed it at Jungle Hadi, near Thithimathi in Virajpet taluk of Kodagu district. DH photo / B H Shivakumar

For tribals dependent on the welfare of plantation owners and farmers for their daily wages, the recent flood has not only added to misery through damages to the house but also taken away crucial chances of employment.

At Jungle Hadi Harijana Colony near Thithimathi, Thimma K was busy constructing a temporary hut after the partial collapse of the house.

“No official has come here more than two weeks after the incident. We have 16 people living under its roof and collapse of the wall puts all of us in danger,” he said.

The Large-sized Adivasi Multipurpose (LAMP) Cooperative Society has come forward to build a shed as a temporary alternative, till the government provides compensation for assessment and repair of the house.

However, J M Janu, the 68-year-old mother of Thimma, said the hut will not be able to withstand heavy rain. “The house protected us for more than 50 years. We still have two more major rains left this year and I am not sure either the house or the new shed will stand after that,” she said.

The hamlet has 14 houses in which at least 80 residents lived for about 50 years.

Almost all the residents are daily wagers dependent on work at coffee plantations, earing between Rs 150 and Rs 250 per day. However, the past 25 days have passed without any job. 

Ganesh J T, a physically challenged man aged over 65 years, said he has not received any aid from the government. “Forget the disability pension,  even the foodgrain from the public distribution system has come down,” he said.

Tribals living in hamlets have always been vulnerable to floods though much of their plight goes unrecorded. At Karehalli Hadlu, Malla P M lost his daughter during heavy rain two weeks ago. Minister S Suresh Kumar had visited the place and assured compensation.

LAMP society director for Virajpet Raja Rao said smaller damages have been reported from hamlets at Kallur, Heroor and other interior places.

“We are still collecting details. The major issue is that of lack of jobs, which has made entire hamlets suffer. We hope the officials will visit such places while addressing problems of flood victims,” he said.

As per the 2017-18 data from the district administration, 25 of the 156 hamlets in Virajpet taluk, which has the highest number of hamlets, do not have electricity supply. 

An official said they are addressing the issues which have been already identified for now. “We have not received many complaints from the interiors. Whatever came to us has been addressed,” he said.

 

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