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How precious lives are being lost in Kannur’s Aralam


May 17, 2024

In 2003, the then Chief Minister AK Antony had intervened and bought about 7,500 acres from the union government for Rs 42 crore. An area of 4,000 acres were set aside for the farm, and another 3,500 acres were distributed among 3,335 tribal families. Of this only 1,717 families remain now as others moved out seeking better living conditions.

“40 years ago I used to be an employee at this farm. I’ve seen how lives change overnight, due to animal attacks. Aralam presents a rare canvas before people like you as this village has people from everywhere including several tribal communities. There are people from different Christian factions who came as settlers long back. In addition, there are 12 tribal communities here,” says Velayudhan.

The efforts to rehabilitate people were made during the AK Antony government in 2003 and later by the VS Achuthanandan government during 2006-11. This area is deep forest, and there is lack of basic facilities like drinking water and other common amneties. There are now only around 1600 families there.

The farm currently has an employee strength of 425, including 125 non-tribals. Earlier, there were about 180 official staff. The numbers have come down. Not all families of those who were killed in attacks received compensation; some only got partial compensation, Velayudhan rues.

As per available statistics, the region has about 1798 Paniyar families, 335 families of the Karimpala tribe, 323 Kurichyar and 20 Kattunaykkar families, in addition to those belonging to other tribal groups like Kanis and Mavilans.

“Animal attacks are the biggest life threatening issue here. Despite efforts like solar fencing and a 13-km long wall from Valayanchal to Kariankapp, the conflict continues. Of late, there have also been a slew of elephant attacks. Since 2014, 17 people have lost their lives,” recounts Valayudhan.

Deaths are primarily due to elephants while attacks by wild boars and monkeys are also not rare. Local residents say there are around 70 elephants inside the farm. Once attempts were made to send them away from the Kerala forest. But in two days, 13 elephants came back. People in the tribal settlement live in constant fear.

Raghu, who was trampled by a wild elephant when he went to collect firewood near their settlement in 2023, was the most recent victim of a wild animal attack in the region.

Incidents of attacks are being reported even now. It seems poor lives don’t matter anymore!

By admin