Several hundreds of residents in a cluster of over 15 tribal settlements in the Western Ghats in Udumalpet taluk are understood to be watching with keen interest the outcome of the effort taken by the authorities in Vellore district to bring about road connectivity to Athimarathurkollai village on Jawadhu hills where an infant girl died of snakebite recently due to the delayed treatment caused by the treacherous terrain.
The child died before being carried on foot to the nearest taluk hospital. In the absence of a motorable road, there was no scope to utilise even a two-wheeler. The child had to be carried back again on foot to the hamlet for the last rites after post-mortem.
The same situation prevails in the hilly parts of Udumalpet taluk where the residents in tribal hamlets have to carry patients on poles for a distance of several kilometres to reach the government hospital.
There is an option to utilise road connectivity, but it is a circumlocutory route exceeding 100 km, according to the petitioners who have pleaded with the district administratio for road connectivity.
Representatives of CPI (Marxist) who have been championing the cause of the villagers on the hilly terrain said the elected representatives have been ignoring the demand that has been existing for decades for laying of a six-km stretch of road from Thirumoorthimalai to Kurumalai.
The issue has been emphasised time and again by the Forest Rights Committee and resolutions had been adopted a number of times in the Grama Sabha meetings for construction of the road, but to no avail.
Of immediate requirement is healthcare for which the Primary Health Centre serving the settlements have to be upgraded with manpower and equipment.
Implementation of a ₹30 lakh proposal for upgrade of the hospital is being delayed, despite a dire need, according to the petitioners.