Drivers’ deaths hit tribal panchayat hard

They were the Edamalakkudy tribal village’s link to the outside world

Updated - August 25, 2020 10:58 pm IST

Published - August 25, 2020 10:55 pm IST - IDUKKI

A jeep moving on the Pettimudy-Edamalakkudy stretch inside the Munnar forest division in Idukki district.

A jeep moving on the Pettimudy-Edamalakkudy stretch inside the Munnar forest division in Idukki district.

The remote tribal grama panchayat of Edamalakkudy in Kerala is in grief.

It is not because of the usual destruction of the only road connecting the village to the outside world in the rainy season but due to the loss of six expert drivers in the Pettimudy landslip on August 7.

With electricity cut off, and other means of communications not available, the isolation is complete now.

Usually a visitor to Edamalakkudy is amazed by the way these expert drivers manoeuvre the vehicles through potholes, negotiating the curves and streams during the rainy season. The experienced drivers were from the estate lanes at Pettimudy which was buried under the devastating landslip.

If the drivers are not there, one has no option but to walk from Pettimudy to Societykudy - a distance of 18 km. Societykudy is the administrative centre for 24 hamlets spread in a wide area inside the Munnar forest division.

Georgekutty, who served the grama panchayat at Edamalakkudy for the longest period, said that not just people but goods too were transported from Munnar to Edamalakkudy by these drivers. There would always be one driver camped at Edamalakkudy to meet emergency services.

They were part of the tribal life and had a strong bond with the tribespeople, he added.

According to Edamalakkudy Vana Samrakshana Samithy secretary Ramesh, floods and small landslips had damaged the road. However, ration and other essential items are stocked for September, he said.

Annadurai, Raja, Mayilswami, Bharati, Samudayya and Murugan were the regular drivers who carried men and materials from Munnar to Edamalakkudy.

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