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Fever takes its toll on encroachers

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LIVING ON THE EDGE: An elderly couple who have been afflicted with symptoms of chikungunya at a tent pitched by the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi at the Kumbazha Estate of Harrisson Malayalam Limited at Chengara near Konni.
LIVING ON THE EDGE: An elderly couple who have been afflicted with symptoms of chikungunya at a tent pitched by the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi at the Kumbazha Estate of Harrisson Malayalam Limited at Chengara near Konni.

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

PATHANAMTHITTA: Viral fever akin to chikungunya is reportedly spreading among the people owing allegiance to the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi (SJVSV) who have encroached on the rubber plantations of Harrisson Malayalam Limited at Chengara near Konni 18 days ago.

Sixteen encroachers, including women, have already been admitted to the primary health centre at Konni and at General Hospital in Pathanamthitta with viral fever, according to Vedi sources.

Vedi president Laha Gopalan said that four persons were shifted to General Hospital with symptoms of chikungunya. Barring a visit by a Health Department medical team, the district health authority had not taken any effort to extend medical care to the landless people camping at Kumbazha.

According to reports received here on Wednesday, the number of encroachers at the estate has gone up considerably and the Vedi chief put it at 25,000.

Mr. Gopalan said over 4,500 landless families attached to the Vedi occupied about 120 acres in the Kurumbatti division of Kumbazha Estate demanding immediate allotment of five acres each to them as promised by the Government 10 months ago. The living condition at the rubber plantation was unhygienic due to lack of basic facilities, posing threat of an epidemic. “The encroachers are taking water from a stream passing through the estate for their domestic chores. It is said that the stream water is highly polluted with pesticides flowing into it in the rain from the pineapple plantations on either banks in the immediate upper reaches of the estate,” he said.

Mr. Gopalan said that the Vedi would stage a 12-hour fast on the occupied land on the Thiruonam day on August 27 protesting against the “indifferent attitude” of the Government to its “peaceful agitation”. He said the Vedi would chalk out its course of action after the day-long fast.

Meanwhile, the plantation workers belonging to different trade unions decided to jointly stage a march to the Collectorate on Friday demanding immediate eviction of the encroachers. The trade unions threatened to counter the encroachment on the plantation by encroaching upon the property of various vedi leaders in different parts of the State.

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