‘Chalo Thiruvananthapuram’ will bring forth issues of Dalits and Adivasis, expose Kerala model of development

File picture of Chalo Una rally, Gujarat.

By Shafeeq Hudawi, Twocircles.net

Thiruvananthapuram: On the lines of Chalo Una movement in Gujarat followed by Chalo Udupi in Karnataka, Kerala will see the Chalo Thiruvananthapuram, which will be launched on January 29 in an attempt to bring forth various woes faced by the Dalit and marginalised communities in Kerala.

Touted to be the first of its kind in the state, the programme envisages rallies, conferences, conventions, and discussions that are aimed at uplifting of the underprivileged sects. The movement will stress on eliminating Dalit colonies and breaking down the Kerala model of development.

Speaking of the upcoming rallies, activist, and writer Sunny M Kapikad points his fingers to some grave concerns that lay unexposed behind the two celebrated schemes.

“The frequently heard land reformation and Kerala model of development are a hype. Following land reformation, landless Dalits were taken to colonies, where they were given houses,” Sunny says. These colonies, where Dalits live, have turned some sort of caste colonies. Presenting a host of factors, activist S Mrudula Devi asserts that land reformation denied due rights to Dalits in Kerala. “Dalits are the sons of land as they were the only community actively engaged in farming and cultivation. Instead of giving them farmland, the government gave them only three cents,” she says.

According to figures with Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), there are 20,061 families belonging to ST category who are homeless in Kerala while 33,652 families live in houses deemed ‘uninhabitable’. The tribal population stands at about 3.34 crores in Kerala as per Census 2011.

Sunny says that 55% of Dalits and 89% of tribals are completely left to suffer due to lack of habitable houses and farm land. The figures, recently presented by the Minister for Welfare of SC and ST A K Balan in the state Legislative Assembly, revealed that only 384 houses for tribals were completed in last five years. No house was allotted for Tribals through Indira Awas Yojana, envisioned by the Union Government to give homes to the homeless in the country.

Despite the State Government launching a ‘zero landless scheme,’ more than 14,000 Tribal families remain landless in the state.

Chalo Thiruvananthapuram will demand steps to give landless people land from one acre to five acres as per the Antony- C K Janu Pact of 2003.

More than five lakh acres land, according to the findings by Rajamanikyam Commission, is illegally owned by plantation companies in the state. Besides, the State Government has 7,324 acres in its land bank.
“Still, the government is talking about three cent land and Dalit and Adivasi colonies instead of giving them proper houses and land to farm. If stern steps are initiated the government can easily help the marginalized to get adequate land,” Mrudula says.

While it comes to aided educational institutions, Dalits fare extremely poorly too.

“The government pays the employees in aided educational institutions, owned by various community managements in the state. But, employees are recruited by the management. Opportunities are hardly offered to teachers from the Dalit community,” Sunny says.

Chalo Thiruvananthapuram will demand steps to ensure the appointment in these institutions through Public Service Commission (PSC) in order to ensure Dalits proper representation.

In addition to these, various resolutions including ensuring the Right of Sea to fishermen folk, use SC and ST welfare fund for only the uplifting of these sects and ensure the welfare of plantation labourersí will be passed at the inaugural convention, which is to be held at Chengara in Pathanamthitta district on January 29. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani will also be attending the inauguration function.

As part of the mega event, a two-month long rally will be taken out from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram. The rally, which will kick start on April 1, will culminate in Thiruvananthapuram on May 31. During the rally, two days camps will be held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Thrissur and Kannur districts.

Representatives of 50 organizations functioning for the welfare of tribals, Dalits, transgenders, fishermen and minorities are expected to attend the rally. District-level organising committees will be formed across the state.