Havugolla Tribe in Karnataka Demanding Permanent Land Rights for over 15 Years

Reported by

Tamanna NaseerLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

October 7, 2021

Location of Conflict

Balekoppa

Chikkamagaluru

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

Land allocation for permanent settlement

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

70

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2

ha

Starting Year

2018

State

Karnataka

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

The nomadic Havugolla community is seeking rehabilitation in Chikkamagaluru district. They were traditionally snake charmers and moved from one place to another. The younger generation, however, did not pursue the ageold tradition and became agricultural labourers and smalltime traders over time. They have been living in Chikkamagaluru district for more than 15 years without proper accommodation and sanitation facilities. Before settling in Chikkamagaluru, they used to roam in Shimoga and Chitradurga districts. Generations of nomadic communities have moved from one place to another, along with their cattle, to earn their livelihood. Whenever they settle on any common land, they claim traditional right over it and demand ownership. The state, on the other hand, considers them encroachers as they have no legal titles over what the state considers government land. The absence of permanent land to settle in and the lack of legal titles as well as laws to safeguard their interests has left these nomadic communities vulnerable. On July 26, 2018 several families from the Havugolla community vacated their temporary shelters near Balekoppa village in NR Pura tehsil in Chikkamagaluru and fled to different districts due to a superstition that deaths would occur in their families during a total lunar eclipse. The district administration made an effort to bring the individuals back and later provided them temporary accommodation on the premises of a defunct school in Balekoppa. But the local residents expressed their unhappiness to the government authorities and complained of theft and unhygienic living conditions of the Havugolla community. The community members are allegedly subjected to regular verbal threats from the village residents who ask them to find a permanent dwelling. Thirtyeightyearold Latha, a tribe member, told LCW: "The monsoon season has started. It is difficult for us to stay in the school premises when it rains. My family returned to Chikkamagaluru from Tirthahalli (in Shimoga) because politicians and officials had promised to give us land for permanent settlement. We are still waiting. There is some conflict with the forest department. We dont know till when we will have to suffer here. The local residents taunt us and pick fights with us regularly. In February 2020, 18 Havugolla families protested in front of the local forest office seeking proper rehabilitation and requested the government to provide them land for resettling permanently. The Nagalapura panchayat had planned to allocate land next to a cremation ground in NR Pura tehsil. However, the forest department, which has planted acacia trees in the area, refused to give a noobjection certificate for cutting down trees on the 5.2 acres of land that was proposed to be used for resettlement. When the community members requested the village panchayat, the latter merely expressed helplessness.  Manish, panchayat development officer of Nagalpura, told LCW, "We are waiting for the forest department to allow us to cut the trees and use the land for relocating the families. On May 28, 2020, the deputy commissioner issued an order, stating that one acre of land should be allotted to the Havugolla community in Aralikoppa village in NR Pura tehsil, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Gubbiga panchayat. No action has been taken on the order yet and the community still awaits rehabilitation. In June, the tribe members met the local sheristadar (officer next in rank to tehsildar) and submitted a written request asking him to provide a permanent place to the community to shift soon.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for promised land, Demand for rehabilitation, Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Environmental Laws, Other, Land Ceiling Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976

    Section 8 [Felling of trees requires the permission of the Tree Officer]

  2. Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, 1993

    Section 58(2) [The panchayat may make provisions for carrying out any work or measure to promote the wellbeing of the inhabitants of the panchayat area]; Section 59(b) [The government may hand over the management of vacant lands in the panchayat area to the panchayat]

  3. Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964

    Section 69 [The state may dispose of land or other property belonging to it for any public utility and, subject to the provisions of Chapter XII of the Act, for the construction of buildings]

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Lack of legal protection over land rights, Non-rehabilitation of displaced people, Delay in allotment and possession of land/property, Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Threats/intimidation

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

The villagers allegedly abuse members of the Havugolla tribe, who are now temporarily residing in the premises of a defunct school in the village. They also accuse the tribe of thefts in the village.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nagalpura

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department, Office of the Chikkamagaluru Deputy Commissioner

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Yes

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Manish, panchayat development officer of Nagalpura, said, "The Nagalpura panchayat had planned to allocate land next to a cremation ground in NR Pura tehsil for relocating the families. However, the state forest department refused to give a no-objection certificate for cutting down trees on the 5.2 acres of land that was proposed to be used for resettlement. We are waiting for the forest department to allow us to cut the trees and use the land for relocating the families.”

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Tamanna Naseer

Reviewed By

Tamanna Naseer

Updated By

Tamanna Naseer

Edited By

Tamanna NaseerLand Conflict Watch
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