Although the administration has asked seven families to vacate their houses at the foot of a hill that is disintegrating owing to heavy rain in the past week at Ilyaru village near here, many of them have decided to stay put till Monday night, hoping that they would be safe. Eight houses have already been damaged and those in other houses fear that similar fate awaits them.

“Where do we go from here?” asked a worried Saraswathi Pujari, an employee of a charitable hospital in the city. Two of her neighbouring houses have taken a severe beating as the earth under them has developed cracks. A large chunk of the wall in the kitchen of Devu Pujari, a daily wage-earner, has moved several inches from its position and the house has several large cracks.

“We started hearing strange sounds and trees falling on Saturday after midnight,” said his neighbour Krishnappa Pujari, whose house too has many cracks in every room. It was only on Sunday morning that the families in the locality began to realise that the hillock had begun to disintegrate. A survey of the mountain instils fears among visitors as landslip could occur any moment. It appeared that the tall trees and their long roots are holding the earth together. Although the fairly big house of farmer Shantharam Pujari is unaffected so far, a strange incident was witnessed by the side of his house. From a particular point — not far away from a wall — mud is oozing out slowly and creating a mound. A shrub has been uprooted at that point. “We do not know what will happen. Thankfully rain has subsided,” Mr. Pujari's son Praveen, a businessman, said. Though his family has been asked to vacate, it was not keen to move out. “They (the administration) have not shown us any alternative place,” he said. Meanwhile Mr. Krishnappa Pujary and Devu Pujari, who have emptied their houses, were busy removing tiles and other wooden parts for future use.

The cracks in the earth have caused damage to the shrine of the Ilyaru.

Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj, who visited the spot said that three families had vacated and four other families needed urgent rehabilitation. He promised to identify alternative land for them in the next 10 days and sanction Ashraya houses to them.

Though there was no immediate danger to 35 other houses in the village, an expert team will be asked to study the situation and give a report. Deputy Director, Mines and Geology, had visited the area, he said and added that temporary sheds will be arranged for them, if required.

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