KERALA

A reclusive tribe in remote place

Staff Reporter

KATTAPPANA (Kerala): When free ration was allotted to the isolated tribal hamlet at Edamalakkudy in Idukki district, a kg of rice cost the tribals Rs 5.50, the extra charge being the transportation cost of a headload porter carrying a sack of rice to Edamalakkudy, lying 38 km from the nearest town Munnar.

Often cut off from the rest of the State, most of the Muthuvans, one of the most reclusive tribes spread across 28 kudies, till recently had little access to the town except a few of them reaching Munnar once or twice in many months for purchasing the most needed items for their subsistence.

“Earlier, one had to travel all the way from Munnar to the kudy by foot braving wild beasts including tuskers and inclement weather conditions,” said a teacher from Kannampady, another tribal area near Upputhara, who was appointed to run a single-teacher school at Edamalakkudy. He worked for nearly a year there and abandoned the job. He was the third person who had abandoned the job without completing an academic year. “One has to fight against all odds in Edamalakkudy and when the initial enthusiasm ebbs, somehow you want to escape from there,” said the teacher.

The situation has not changed much now. One has to travel by jeep to an 18-km stretch till Pettimudy and the rest of the distance by foot to reach Edamalakkudy. “What the tribals were demanding for years was a proper forest path to reach the kudy and even now one cannot imagine travelling all alone through the stretch,” said a health worker here.

“News from Edamalakkudy, reaches the town very slowly,” he said and added that only when something severe like shortage of essential items or an epidemic-like situation exists that some tribals reached the town and the rest of the world did actually know about it.

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