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In Rajakamangalamthurai the majority of the land where the inhabitants live in the centre of the village belong to the Catholic parish; its occupants cannot thus obtain document of title.

I interviewed a beneficiary in this situation.

See also “How the parish alienates the inhabitants of Rajakamangalamthurai”

Hello, may I ask you your name? Muttu, and here is my wife Manuela, my three daughters and my son.

Is this your house under construction? Yes

And this land belongs to you? Yes, it is the land of my family.

Since when are you settled in this village? I was born on this land, my parents raised me here they lived on this land for more than 65 years, it is where I grew up. They had a hut with thatched roof. When my father died, my mother left for Kerala with my sisters and I moved into the family house with my wife fifteen years ago.

May I ask you whether you have a “patha” (land property title) for this land? No, nobody has “patha” here, the land belongs to the parish. We can use the land as long as we wish and sell it if we want, but we cannot obtain a “patha”.

Would the purchasers be interested by a land without “patha”? Only neighbors wishing to increase their land and who do not have a land deed for their own land would be interested...

I heard that if you occupy a land for more than 14 years you have the right to make a request for “patha”? Are you aware of this law? Yes, I am aware of it but this land here belongs to the parish and the parish has a land title so we would not be able to obtain one for us. If one wants to sell one can make the act on a blank paper and that is enough. Here all the villagers are Christians; as soon as one wants to do something with the land one must give notice the parish.

A “patha” offers to you various advantages and a safety....
Yes, indeed. One could for example ask for a bank loan, my daughter is sick and must undergo an operation for which we do not have the means. But as no one has a “patha” I would not make the request of it...

It seems to me that you had problems at the time of the construction of your new house? Yes, our neighbor claimed our land as being his. He advised us to move on the new land where the allotment is under construction, I refused my parents always lived here and it is here that I grew up.
How did you solve the problem? I went to see the council of the parish. After a few days of discussions the council took a decision and affirmed that this ground belonged to me.

Isn’t the receipt of the payment of the land taxes enough to prove it? No, because it stipulates that I paid my taxes for a land but it does not give the limits of the ground at all, nor its area...

Thus in the event of a problem concerning this land it is to the council of the parish to decide? Yes, and if we are not satisfied one will see the police force, it is them who will decide as a last resort....

What can do the police force if you do not have documents? They come and discuss with the villagers, the neighbors and take a decision.

Your situation is thus rather fragile.... Yes, it is true. But the villagers are good witnesses of the situation of each one and if one really had difficulties to prove the property of his land I know that they would support each other. Especially women!

Ah yes, why women? They are very supportive of each other and always support no matter what is the problem. Men usually sit on the fence...

Please note that A&D guarantees that the beneficiaries have security of tenure

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