Chikkamagaluru: Despite the country making progress since independence, certain pockets in rural India remind one of pre-independence era. A village Honnekudige is a glaring example to showcase the “backbone of the country” threadbare, where around 35 Malekudiya families still rely on dangerous coracle rides for their survival. The village also known as Amtigudda on the banks of Bhadra river lacks basic amenities as families have to depend on nearby Magundi, Kalasa, Balehonnur, Gabbal, Kottigehara and Mudigere towns for their daily needs.
The families are left with no other option apart from crossing Bhadra river to reach the Balehonnur-Kottigehara main road, which is at a distance of 1 km from the river edge. Their plight does not cease once they cross the river as they have to tread through the rough terrain fearing land lords (estate owners) in the area. The families which have some land to their credit for cultivation under the Forest Rights Act, while surviving against the might of the landlords. Their plight worsens when they have to take written permission from the landlords for travelling in vehicles transporting goods as the stretch of the road they use is encroached by the estate owners. Students, labourers and those visiting government offices and hospitals have to sneak through the barbed wire fence every time they want to reach the main road which is at a distance of 1 km, to reach nearby towns. The difficulties encountered by them increase multifold during rainy season, when river Bhadra is in spate.
Though there are alternative routes available, tribal families prefer crossing Bhadra river risking their lives, considering the long distance, difficulties involved and time required, in case they opt for the long winding path. The apathy of the local administration for ages has only compounded their problems.
With the allocation for a Centre-sponsored Tribal Welfare Scheme launched in 2014 coming down to a mere Rs 1 Crore ($154,000) in 2016-17 from Rs 200 Crore in 2015-16 and Rs 100 Crore in 2014-15, villages like “Honnehudige” may be deprived of daylight for ever!
The Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) was launched in 2014 by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs for overall development of the country’s estimated 60 million tribal population, the indigenous people. But with Karnataka not figuring in the list despite a sizeable tribal population, the chances of “survival” of the hapless populace depends on the “divine mercy” than anything else for now!