Jobs lost due to pandemic, tribals await call from Anamalai tiger reserve officials – the New Indian Express
COIMBATORE: Many residents of the Erumaiparai tribal settlement under the Ulanthy Forest Range in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) have been unemployed since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020.
Some of them were involved in clearing vegetation to prevent forest fires, while others were in charge of collecting parking fees from tourists at Topslip, a well-known tourist spot.
According to VS Paramasivam, chairman of the Coimbatore district of the Tamil Nadu Tribal Welfare Association, “Although ATR officials have started to allow tourists to stay in guesthouses in Topslip and charge fees for parking. of the vehicles, only one tribal group is currently engaged in the work, while four people had been engaged in the work earlier. Likewise, the sweeping of the reception and the cleaning of the toilets, which was carried out by temporary staff, are now entrusted to the permanent staff.
Saroja, a tribal woman, said she received 250-300 rupees, which was helpful in supporting her family and supporting the education of her children. She has been unemployed for a year and a half. “We were awaiting news from the forestry officials who had assured to give us jobs once the department had started its activities. However, those responsible have not kept their word, ”she said.
According to her, 32 families in total live in the colony. While more than 100 tribal members had been engaged in various jobs, 40 of them are now unemployed, she said.
Paramasivam said the tribals were facing hardship without a job and they had asked the forestry department to create a platform where the tribals can perform their traditional dance for tourists and in return raise a decent amount of money. . “It will improve their livelihoods in addition to protecting their traditional dance. Such a practice is followed in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, located next to the ATR, ”he said.
A senior ATR official told TNIE: “We have provided employment for one member of each tribal family in the Erumaiparai settlement and deny that 40 people are unemployed. The Erumaiparai tribes are engaged as drivers and in other work for the forestry department. I have interacted with tribal families. However, a few people do not even have the qualification for the job of a driver. Clearing to prevent forest fires is seasonal work. We had hired them for summer work, but we cannot hire them now in the rains.
The official added that they plan to introduce the tribal dance before the tourists and raise money for it. In this regard, the department would hold discussions with the tribals, he said.