It is without notice – whether heavy rain there or elsewhere – that Athrebail, near Koloor, gets entirely cut off from the rest of the State. When water is released from the Maravoor vented dam, Gurupura river swells, enveloping the village and its surroundings in waist-high water.
In drier seasons, a mud road curves off the main road connecting the area to the highway, and skirts the river. As The Hindu reported on April 30, after a point, the road becomes little more than a cattle trail dangling precariously by the river.
Now, the road is completely inundated, and one has to traverse in knee-high water through fields inland to reach the houses. A bridge built over a small canal is under inches of water. The villagers advise caution here, as the trail passes close to an open well – which is unseen in the swathes of brown water.
This is the path taken by college student Kiran Shetty and his family everyday. “We have gotten used to it, and can navigate. But it is extremely dangerous. During the heavy rains, we did not venture out. There is a danger that the gushing water pushes us into either the canal or the well,” he said.
After the heavy rains on Thursday, those who had left for work or for school in the morning were stranded at Malekoppala 2 km away. It was only after boats were arranged, did they return home. Since then, most have not been able to go to work.
“It’s like a red sea,” said Dinesh Shetty of the Atrelbail Malekoppala Nagarika Samiti, who points at the vast expanse of inundated fields. He blames the construction of a road, connecting the under-construction Mangalore Special Economic Zone with the highway, on the other side of the river for the flooding. “They dump mud and reclaim land. The river’s flow is constricted, and so, during the rains, the river spills over to our village,” he said.
Those living further along the village have to hang on to shrubs, negotiating the rising river on one side and a thicket of trees on the other. The ankle-deep muck on this makes walking at night impossible, said villagers.
“As the river rises and falls, part of the mud is eroded. So, what was once steady mud, can now collapse into the river. We cannot see what has become of the trail,” said Sunil D’Souza, a driver, who lost out on three days of work because of the flood.
Safety is not found in the house also. The river violently pulls and tugs at the trees a few metres in front of Gulabi Poojary’s house. “Any time it rains, the water enters the house. Cracks have started to develop in front of our house. The ground here may give away if there is heavy downpour again,” she said.