Arippa people: “We need lands for agriculture!”
Around 3000 Arippa indigenous people (IP) and landless poor in India started a hunger strike in front of the Kerala Secretariat on 19 February 2016 to protest for their land rights which they have been demanding since 2013. Ekta Parishad joined the 15-day protest.
Tribes claim the 55.46 acres of a 90-acre land in the Arippa forest in Kulathuphuza village to be a surplus land meant for redistribution among the landless poor. The Kerala Government, however, allotted this for developing universities and campuses apart from the 68.46 acres allocated for institutional developments (George, 2014).
In 2013, the Kerala Government has enacted the “Zero Landless Program” awarding titles of 3-cent lands (equivalent to 0.01 hectare) to the IPs and landless poor for dwelling. This amount of plot barely provides sustenance to the families. They need lands for agriculture.
For three years, these activists have been conducting mass mobilizations for their land rights; and the Government has been deaf of these people’s pleas.
In a news story posted on 20 February 2016, an action was finally heard from the Government. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has directed the District Collector to furnish details of the Arippa families to whom he promised to give lands upon availability.