StoryInfinity for Daijiworld
Chikkamagaluru, Sep 2: For the tribal community members of Holekudige village in Mudigere taluk, bringing the dead bodies of their community members to the village for last rites, means risking their own lives.
On Wednesday, 29-year old Raghavendra, a resident of Holekudige village who was suffering from jaundice was declared dead by a hospital in Mangaluru. To perform his last rites, the family wanted to take his body to the house. However, to accomplish this, the tribal leaders had to shift the body in a coracle, by traversing 1 km in the swollen River Bhadra. “This has been our life for close to three-decades now. There is no road connectivity to cross the river. Coracle is the only option, even though it means risking our lives,” Chetan, one of the residents said.
For about 20 families of Holekudige village, the monsoon’s fury means being cut-off from rest of the world. The locals claimed that the monsoon season has time and again exposed the lack of road connectivity in Malnad area of Chikkamagaluru. “When the river is in spate during heavy rainfall, we cannot cross the river even using coracle. Children are also unable to attend the schools for several days,” Kumar, another resident added.
However, residents said that their repeated pleas to the district administration and taluk authorities for road connectivity to the village has fallen on deaf ears and no action has been taken by the successive governments to build a bridge.
According to the locals, there is an alternative route via land, which passes through their village and connects to the nearby Magundi village. However, this route, the locals say, has been encroached by an influential estate owner. The sprawling estate has a fence extension that blocks the route completely. “If we had access through this route, we could have reached Magundi and subsequently to other locations,” says Kumar.
The villagers said that they have been fighting for the cause for the past several years. “We have repeatedly brought it to the notice of the government agencies including the forest department, but they don’t seem to show any will at all to procure the land,” a local resident said.
Ultimately, the villagers took the matter to the jurisdictional court. But the landlord has obtained a ‘stay order’ from the honourable court and is against clearing the encroachment. “Unless the stay is lifted, we are unable to take action against the landlord,” Deputy Commissioner of Chikkamagaluru Bagadi Gautham told Daijiworld.
Villagers recollect that last year, an aged patient was made to sit on the plastic chair and was taken in a coracle to reach the hospital for treatment. “Our condition is pathetic. We wonder about our independence, what have we attained from freeing ourselves from British 72 years ago? Our elected representatives continue to neglect our basic requirements and force us to face unseen eventualities and threat each day,” says Chetan.
When Daijiworld contacted Mudigere MLA MP Kumaraswamy, he said he was aware of the issue and is in discussion with the authorities and state government. He said there are plans to construct a hanging bridge over the Bhadra River. This will help the villagers to travel from Holekudige village to the nearby Vannekoodige near Horanadu, which is less than 2 kms away from the mainland.”