Due to lack of roads, an 18-month-old girl, who was bitten by a snake at Athimarathurkollai village near Vellore town and carried on foot to the Government Taluk Hospital in Anaicut, died on the way.
Athimarathurkollai is among the 12 tribal hamlets on Alleri Hills, one of the hillocks in Jawadhu Hills near Amirthi Reserve Forest at Anaicut taluk in Vellore district. According to the residents, around 9 p.m on Friday, S. Viji, 32, a daily wage labourer, was sleeping in front of his thatched house along with his wife, V. Priya, 28, and two children, including the infant, V. Dhanushka. The couple woke up startled when Dhanushka started crying. When they saw a snake escape into nearby bushes, the deduced that the reptile had bitten their daughter.
Along with some men in the village, the couple carried their child on foot to the government hospital in Anaicut, around 17 km from the hamlet around 11 p.m. The girl, however, was declared brought dead at the hospital. “If our village had a motorable road, at least for two-wheelers, my child would have been alive now. Wonder how many lives will be lost before a road is laid,” Mr. Viji lamented.
The parents’ grief and ordeal did not end at the hospital. After post-mortem at the Government Medical College Hospital in Vellore, the body was handed over to them around 2 p.m. on Saturday. Since the ambulance driver was unable to drive beyond the Varadalampattu village, at the foot of Alleri Hills, the parents had to carry the body around 8 km on foot to Athyimarathurkollai village. The Anaicut police have filed a case.
Vellore Collector P. Kumaravel Pandian told The Hindu that enumeration of the Alleri Hillock for road formation was under way. Road was being laid on the neighbouring Pichamathai Hills, which has around 45 tribal hamlets with 4,000 residents.
Officials of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), which executes projects along with Forest Department in hilly areas in Vellore, said unlike the Pichamanthai Hills and Kurumalai Hills in Anaicut, the gradient of Alleri Hills was very steep. In coordination with the Forest Department, a spatial survey from the foot to the top of the Alleri hillock was being done by the DRDA to assess land requirement. As per the norms, one hectare of forest land can be sanctioned by the DFO. However, DRDA officials said the 20-feet-stretch on the hillock might need more forest land due to steep terrain.
“Based on the survey, which will end in a month, a detailed project report on road formation on the Alleri hillock will be made. Nod from the Forest Department will be a challenge,” K. Arthi, Project Director, DRDA (Vellore), said.