Shops in the area remain closed after geologists issued warnings of further landslips

The otherwise lively site of Cheeyappara waterfalls on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway is eerily quiet. On August 6, tragedy struck the tourist spot when a landslide shook the region and claimed three lives. A month later, the memories remain, and continue to hurt.

More than a score of small shops that operated near the waterfall have been closed on a directive from the district administration and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The Revenue Department had issued orders for the closure of the shops after geologists warned of further landslips at the site.

Tourists stopping at the site of the landslide to take in the waterfall were advised not to park their vehicles there, said Adimali grama pancayat president P.V. Scariah. He said the site still posed serious danger and landslips were real possibilities as rains continued to drench the area.

Forty-year-old Shanta, who ran a small shop selling snacks at Cheeyappara, said the landslide was still fresh in memory.

She said she had managed to save her life along with a fellow shopkeeper, Indira, by the narrowest of margins.

The shop she owned at the site was completely destroyed, she said, claiming the losses amounted to Rs. 4 lakh.

Those who had lost their shops have not been considered for any compensation so far despite a promise of help from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who had visited the site on August 7.

She said she had opened a new shop with whatever money she could raise at Third Mile, about a km down the national highway.

It has been learnt that shopkeepers like Shanta have not received any compensation, largely because they had been occupying forest land or land belonging to the NHAI.

Help for vendors

The panchayat president said the possibility of helping the shopkeepers who were affected by the landslide would be discussed with the district administration. He said it was irrational to allow shops to reopen at the site of the landslide as it posed threat to lives.

The possibility of allowing the affected people to open shops at Third Mile could be considered in consultation with the district administration, he added.

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