Unguarded entry points pose new challenge

Several shortcuts taken by plantation workers from Tamil Nadu to enter Kollam district

While the State has stepped up surveillance to prevent the illegal movement across the border, it is the less known forest trails and unguarded entry points that pose a challenge to the authorities.

Though all official routes connecting Kerala to neighbouring Tamil Nadu have been secured, many trespassers still try to sneak in and out dodging the guards. According to sources, there are shortcuts usually taken by plantation workers from Tamil Nadu and also winding trails opted by illegal traders and drug peddlers.

“After incidents were reported from different parts, we set up additional camps to block all possible entry points in the forest and seal the porous border. Of late, the frequency of attempts has come down,” said Thenmala DFO A.P. Sunil Babu.

Even after the lockdown, people used to freely enter and exit the border through a handful of forest trails, but the department heightened its vigil after a Kulathupuzha resident tested positive following his visit to Puliyankudi. “The officials know about checkposts and some other routes used by truck drivers to avoid checking, but there are several others cutting through places such as Rajathottam, Anachadi and some estates,” said a resident.

Apart from the four permanent camps to monitor activities, the police and the Forest Department have now deployed their personnel in a spate of points, including those in Rajakooppu and Karimbinthottam. Another closely guarded point is the railway tunnel connecting Aryankavu to Bhagavathipuram in Tamil Nadu, which offers an easy passage to the State.

“Now the police and Forest personnel are monitoring the tunnel 24x7 and all those coming there are instructed to return at once. Last time, some people from Puliyara in Tamil Nadu tried to enter Kerala through the tunnel with some buffalos and they too were sent back. Vana Samrakshana Samithi members also alert us if they spot someone unfamiliar or any unusual activity in the forest,” said Abju K. Arun, Range Officer, Aryankavu.

While patrolling has been intensified with the help of various squads, a drone monitoring trial was also held in the forest areas bordering Tamil Nadu on Monday. “The one-day trial was conducted to monitor the area and the movements of wild animals. Shendurney is not an ideal option for trespassers as the other side of the forest is Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR). So it is very unlikely for anyone trying to cross the border to take this route, but the area is under surveillance,” said B. Sajeev Kumar, Wildlife Warden, Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:59:35 PM |

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