The Forest Rights Act (FRA) envisaged bringing justice for the indigenous people of our country, but the reality of the situation is contrasting. Especially in the state of Tamil Nadu, the scenario in this context is depressing. Keystone has been facilitating communities to claim their rights since 2010.
Recently, a meeting was held for the Toda tribes of the Nilgiris. They are one among the six Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the Nilgiris. There are 64 Mund (Toda hamlet) in the Nilgiris. Todas from 17 different Mund attended the meeting. P. Chandran – Additional Coordinator said ‘The government record shows that there are eight Village Forest Committees (VFCs) – that was formed by the Todas back in 20
However, Todas enjoy many privileges in accessing the forest. As a customary practice, the Todas use rattan palm and cane to build their temple. These are still collected from Mukurthi National Park – one of the well-preserved habitats in the Nilgiris. Restrictions don’t avert them from continuing this practice; though the occasion doesn’t occur frequently, they manage to collect palms and cane when it’s required.
More training sessions will be held in the coming months. We envisage that these meetings will be vital for the community to claim their ancestral forest land.