The Christmas holidays have eased tension on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border.
After a gap of 18 days, movement of people across the border at Kumili was hectic on Friday morning with about 50 van and auto operators transporting local people and Sabarimala pilgrims from Goodalur to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department check post, just one km from the Kumili check post.
People trekked the distance and boarded buses at the Kumili bus stand to reach their destinations in Idukki district. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have deployed adequate police force on both sides of the Kumili check post. The situation on the Kumili border was calm.
Autorickshaw, jeep and van operators began shuttle services to Kumili from Goodalur, Lower Camp and Cumbum. People from Madurai, Theni, Thirunelveli and Virudhunagar districts travelled in buses to reach Lower Camp from where they engaged private vans to reach Kerala.
The private operators charged Rs.50 per person for a drop at Kumili from Goodalur.
Many workers from Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Namakkal districts are working on Kerala estates and their children studying in schools in Cumbum and Theni. “We have come to Tamil Nadu to take our wards to our native place for the Christmas vacation. The calm prevailing on the border is really a boon for us,” said estate workers at Kumili.
The police took all efforts to maintain peace. They diverted all Sabarimala vehicles to Cumbum Mettu Road on their return journey, without touching Goodalur, the boiling point in the Mullaperiyar dam issue.
Kerala banana chips makers in Kumili were the worst hit, losing business to the tune of Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1.5 lakh every day owing to the absence of Sabarimala pilgrims. “The first season is over. If the situation does not change before Makara Vilakku, we will lose our entire investment. Restoration of bus services across the border is necessary,” said traders at Kumili.