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HC gives Kerala govt 18 months to build wall protecting Aralam farm tribal families from elephant attacks

HC gives Kerala govt 18 months to build wall protecting Aralam farm tribal families from elephant attacks

Published:10 August 2021

To alleviate the plight of 1,515 tribal families living in the 3,500 acre Aralam farms, in Kannur district of the state, who are unable to work or live there due to periodic elephant attacks, the Kerala High Court has directed the Left government to complete construction of a wall around the compound within 18 months.

Kochi | To alleviate the plight of 1,515 tribal families living in the 3,500 acre Aralam farms, in Kannur district of the state, who are unable to work or live there due to periodic elephant attacks, the Kerala High Court has directed the Left government to complete construction of a wall around the compound within 18 months.

The court declined to grant 36 months time as sought by the government saying that Rs 22 crore has already been sanctioned for construction of a concrete wall measuring 10.5 Km, besides fencing of 3.5 Km, and an entire project study has already been carried out.

It said that since the Public Works Department was entering the arena for the first time, it can be granted 18 months to complete the work which would also include floating and finalisation of the tender.

Initially, the work was entrusted to the SC/ST department of the state, but it could not carry it out, the court noted.

"The decision to construct a concrete compound wall has been taken long ago and therefore, in order to protect the life and property of the tribals living in that area, construction should be completed without any delay." it said.

It further said that unless there was "proper and periodical monitoring", the work will not be completed in time and therefore, directed the Chief Secretary of the Kerala government to issue appropriate directions or instructions to the concerned officials for the commencement and completion of the compound wall within the time granted by the court.

"Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala is also directed to monitor the work progress," the court said.

It noted in its order that about 1,515 tribal families are residing in the Aralam Farm Tribal Colony, in plots allotted by the government, from 2004 onwards and due to various reasons, like growth of forest, attack of wild animals -- especially wild elephants, non identification of plots, lack of transport and educational facilities in the settlement area and dire financial conditions etc., "many allottees stay away from the settlement".

The court also observed that NABARD has made a proposal of Rs 167 crores for developing infrastructure in the Aralam Farm Resettlement Area and KITCO has prepared a project report for the first phase of the project.

"But due to the ineffective and inefficient implementation of these schemes and governmental programmes, life of the tribals still remain in peril. The recent elephant attack deaths complicate the issue and exodus of the tribals has increased," the court said.

The directions and observations by the court came while disposing of a plea by some residents of the farm seeking directions to the state government to take urgent steps to prevent the entry of the wild elephants into the Aralam settlement by any means.


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