The life of Yamuna and her son has been positively impacted thanks to the Karnataka Bank
Written by Anisha Iyer
The life Yamuna has lived has been nothing short of challenging. Her family has been residing for 15 years in theKerekatte Range of the Kudremukh National Park.
Yamuna first moved into the national park after getting married to her husband, Sona. They had four children, two from Sona’s previous marriage and two of their own. Together they worked as unskilled labourers ( farm labor ) within the park on the properties of other residents. When money was short and seasonal work not available, beedi rolling was the next best source of income. The beedi factory opened by 6 AM, for which she had to walk 6.5 kilometers each way, everyday in order to collect raw materials. Yamuna would make 5000 beedis every week and earn Rs400 for the same.
Yamuna with her family
Three years ago, Yamuna’s husband passed away. This led to further challenges she had to face. The older children managed to get employment near Udupi at construction sites and moved out. Yamuna decided to send her younger children away to her mother’s place outside the park for education.
Since then, Yamuna found herself living on her own. The house she resided in had major structural damages, which she could not afford to get fixed. In more recent times, possibilities of elephant encounters and loss of electricity due to rains and tree falls had made life harder. She waited for three years trying to find help in order to move out, but the process was hard, as she did not have the right property documents.
Fate saw her cross paths with Sudhakar Shetty, a former park resident who is an advocate of the relocation programme and is actively involved in motivating and helping people move out. Sudhakar reached out to WCS, explained her situation and sought aid. After considering her situation in great detail, WCS was finally able to help her move out of the national park. But this was made possible only with the timely help of Karnataka Bank. Based on the request of WCS –India Karnataka Bank Ltd agreed to support the relocation of one family under Corporate Social Responsibility program. Accordingly WCS India identified this family and paid Rs.9 lakh to this family. This is the first ever funding support for core relocation from any bank.
WCS-India team with Yamuna
A very ecstatic Yamuna is all smiles now, reunited with her sons and her mother. Now living in the South Canara (Dhakshina Kannada) District, she says,“I would want everyone to move out of national parks, it is what is best for people and animals.” She works on farms and plantations around the area and has access to public transport, medical care and other basic amenities.
Kudremukh National Park in Karnataka covers over 600 sq km of rainforests with natural grassland and shola forests spread over three districts–Dakshin Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur. This part of the Western Ghats also gives birth to the three rivers Thunga, Bhadra, and Netravathi. It is home to the endangered lion-tailed macaque, besides tigers, leopards, gaurs, and elephants.
In 2005, the state government passed an order for voluntary relocation from Kudremukh and took upon itself the task of entirely funding the resettlement. There were around 800 families living in the park. Around 251 of them have moved out voluntarily with the Government sponsored relocation package and 66 from WCS funded land purchase program and been resettled outside the park at a total cost of Rs 68 crores so far.