Kerala

Five tribal hamlets near Nilambur marooned in rain

Men of Vaniyampuzha tribal hamlet risking their lives to help a groupof volunteers to cross the Chaliyar on a bamboo raft on a rainy day.Photo Sakeer Hussain.   | Photo Credit: Sakeer Hussain

Five tribal hamlets in the Government Seed Garden Complex at Munderi near Nilambur have been marooned across the river Chaliyar since the rain strengthened a few days ago.

Although no casualty or damage was reported in the rain, the swollen Chaliyar has cut off the dozens of families living in Thandankallu, Iruttukuthi, Vaniyampuzha, Tharippapotti, and Kumbalappara hamlets from the rest of the world.

The government is yet to reconstruct the three concrete bridges that had been destroyed in the floods three years ago. Without the bridges, the tribal hamlets are inaccessible for the people from outside.

The tribespeople have been depending on bamboo rafts to cross the river for various purposes. When it rains heavily in the forests of Nilambur and Wayanad, the Chaliyar turns furious and renders the use of bamboorafts difficult.

Whenever there is a medical emergency or an accident or an animal attack to any member from those hamlets when the river is in spate, the help of the Fire and Rescue Services or the National Disaster

Response Force is sought. “Since we are not complaining, none cares for us. It is very sad,” said Babu, a youngster at Vaniyampuzha. His house had suffered extensive damage in the floods of 2019.

Although the revenue staff of the collectorate had raised some funds under the leadership of the then Collector Jaffar Malik and built a temporary hanging bridge for the tribespeople to cross the river in 2019, the bridge did not last beyond the next year’s monsoon.

The families are constantly exposed to the risk of wild animal attacks, especially elephants. Dozens of families of Vaniyampuzha hamlet have been living in makeshift tarpaulin sheds in elephant-infested jungle since their houses were destroyed in the floods of 2019. At night, none dares to sleep in those tents because of elephant scare.

“We climb the trees with our children and sleep in the lofty tents to escape from elephant raids,” said Sudha V.K., a senior member of the tribespeople.

According to her, those who visit the hamlet in the forest stand agape and admire the tarpaulin tree huts, but none bothers to rehabilitate them.

“We are leading such a risky life without any care and protection,” she said. The tribespeople will have to cross the river if they want to buy groceries or to seek treatment for ailment or to go to school or work.

“The bamboo raft we use to cross the river is not a riskless one. There is a certain amount of risk in crossing the river on the raft. And we become helpless when water in the river increases,” said S. Gireesh, a tribal youth.

Mithra Jyothi Tribal Development Foundation chairman Aju Koloth said that the government was turning a blind eye to the miseries of the tribespeople. “Many young women are living in the hamlets without even a proper toilet, let alone any power connection to the hamlets,” he said.


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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 9:16:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/five-tribal-hamlets-near-nilambur-marooned-in-rain/article37080773.ece

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