The Jenu Kuruba and Kurumba Tribes' Fight for Basic Rights

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The Jenu Kuruba and Kurumba Tribes' Fight for Basic Rights

A Tale of Unfulfilled Promises

The Jenu Kuruba tribe, residing in the Nagarhole forests of Karnataka, faces a stark reality. Despite government claims of welfare measures, the community continues to struggle for basic amenities like land rights, access to water, and electricity.

The Jenu Kuruba children, aged between 3 and 10, are crammed into a tiny room for their education. This makeshift anganwadi, constructed just last year, stands as the only pucca structure in their settlement. Prior to this, they received education in a dilapidated shed.

The community's fight for basic rights has been ongoing for decades. They have submitted applications under the Forest Rights Act of 2006, but are still awaiting approval. Even government-employed individuals tasked with implementing welfare schemes rarely deliver on their promises.

Families who opted for relocation to Nanachi Gadde Hadi in the 1970s face a similar situation. Despite being surrounded by coffee plantations with access to electricity and tap water, the Jenu Kurubas rely on primitive water holes. Ironically, their counterparts deep within the forest have access to proper wells and solar-powered lighting.

During election season, however, promises and benefits trickle in. A bridge connecting them to the road was finally constructed after years of pleading, and recently, tap connections and pucca houses were sanctioned under government schemes. However, the water supply remains non-existent, and the houses are yet to be completed.

The Kurumbas of Erumad, residing on the Tamil Nadu side of the Nilgiris biosphere, face similar challenges. Despite their traditional bone-setting practices gaining recognition, they struggle for basic amenities. Through persistent efforts, they have secured access to water, electricity, and pucca houses.

However, their biggest challenge remains unresolved. The demarcation of states after independence categorized them as Kurumbas in Tamil Nadu, while their community primarily resides in Kerala. This categorization renders them ineligible for benefits enjoyed by their counterparts in Kerala, where their children often marry. Despite continuous efforts since 1947, their struggle for recognition as Mulla Kurmans in Tamil Nadu remains unaddressed.

As the Lok Sabha elections approach, the Jenu Kuruba and Kurumba communities hope that their voices will be heard. They urge the candidates to address their long-standing demands and ensure their access to basic amenities and rightful recognition. Their struggle for a better life continues, and the upcoming elections offer a glimmer of hope for a brighter future.