History of tribal dislocation in Gudalur

  • 29/04/2006

1805: Nilambur Kovilgam, a ruler of a Kerala province, annexes 40,500 ha of Gudalur

1845: Kovilagam's successors (jenmies) start leasing out land to plantation companies. They also employ tenants to cultivate land directly under their control

1940s: Migration from Kerala; migrants are employed as tenants in jenmi lands

1950s and early 1960s: More migrations, non- jenmi lands occupied. Government terms this encroachment

1963: Lal-Bahadur Shastri Srimavo Bandarnaike Pact: Tamil repatriates settle in Gudalur. Many occupy the region's forests

1969: Tamil Nadu government passes Janmom Lands (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act. Regularises pre-1969 encroachment. Gives land deeds to tenants. Takes over jenmies role as lessee. But implementation held up by litigation. Meanwhile liberal attitude towards pre-1969 encroachers leads to more occupation of forestlands

1974: Act notified. Nine-plantation companies appeal in Madras High Court: want status of tenants. Petition dismissed. Appeal in Supreme Court (SC). A 20-year stay granted on application of the Janmom Act to plantations. Assure court they won't extend cultivation

1978: Drive against post 1969 encroachers, it stops after an encroacher commits suicide

1981: Eviction drive again, but SC stays it

1995: Godavarman case: opens the door for denying tribals access to forests

1999: Nine-plantation companies take back their claims. The stay period has ended. But the government does not take over the role of the lessee. The nine-plantation companies, have, in the 20 years, flouted their undertaking to the SC.