KOCHI: Barely believable, but a living reality nonetheless -- a region without mobile phone connectivity in Ernakulam district which is one of the most technologically advanced districts in the country. And the lack of such a basic modern-day utility, often taken for granted, had several residents of Kozhikottukulangara village, 15 km away from Perumbavoor, toying with the idea of relocating elsewhere.
But all this has become part of an unhappy past as a new mobile tower was installed at Vakuveli ward on Wednesday. And it is a dream come true for around 5,000 villagers in Vengoor panchayat.
According to Ambili John, member, panchayat standing committee (welfare), “It is a dream come true for the villagers and the efforts of the entire village helped realise it. This has come as a major relief to people in both Vakuveli and Kozhikottukulangara”.
Sreejith Raghavan, who works as a sales executive, was thrilled when the first data was sent via email from his phone after the new mobile tower was inaugurated. Earlier, he had to travel till Kuruppampady, 9km away, to sent emails from his mobile.
Civil police officer Jijo Varghese, who is also a social worker, said.
“It was in February that we petitioned the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). After receiving our application, a Malayali officer there directed us to a private telecom company. Since this was the need of the entire village, no-objection certificate (NOC) was issued and the tower commissioned finally.”
Amid the happy faces, the travails endured by Kozhikottukulangara in the not-too-distant past are still green in the region’s collective consciousness. Suja Salim and her husband, as well as Sily Shaji, are just two instances of people being driven to their wits’ end by the ordeal.
“It has been 15 years since I came to Kozhikottukulangara after marriage. Though I’m from Munnar, mobile connectivity is hardly an issue there despite the region’s relative remoteness. Since we run a driving school, it is very important for us to stay connected with our clients. They could never contact us to convey any details regarding scheduling of classes once we got back home from office. When the lack of proper mobile connectivity started affecting our livelihood, we decided to move out. Now, we have bought a new place here at Pattimatom,” said Suja.
Sily Shaji recounted how she ended up losing two of her mobile phones. “My two smartphones stopped working after they got drenched in rain while they were kept outside for picking up signals. We never used to receive mobile signals inside our home, so I used to keep my phone out in the yard. Last year in rain, both my phones got damaged. Both the phones were brought from abroad by my brother. How can I ask him to get me a new one now?” she says.