THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A State Government scheme to use donkeys for transporting goods to a remote tribal village in Idukki has been turned down by the inhabitants, terming it highly impractical.
The heavy monsoon rains have made an eight-km-long walk through dense forests a difficult task, but the residents of Edamalakudy, the only tribal grama panchayat in the state, said they needed a lasting solution to their transportationwoes rather than temporary ones.
The apparently half-baked idea was mooted in February by a coordination committee on the special package for Edamalakudy.
“Three or four units of donkeys should be provided and sheds may be set up for sheltering them,” agovernment order issued after the meeting said.The grama panchayat committee unanimously vetoed the idea on various grounds, mainly because of the possibility of wild animal attacks on the donkeys,” said panchayat secretary Rajan.
“The members also pointed out that the muddy surface would be further damaged by the frequent movements of the goods-laden donkeys,” he said.
Panchayat Department director A Sayeed said the proposal was an available option. “There are restrictions to construct a tarred road passing through forest land. The practice of using donkeys is in vogue in similar other locations in the country,” he said.
A tribal representative, who didn’t want to be named for political reasons, said a permanent solution was the need of the hour.
“The officials said a tarred road cannot be laid inside the forest and instead suggested paving granite on the pathway. But the works were abandoned half way,” he said.“The headload workers charge Rs 10.50 per kg to deliver goods from Pettimudi, which is connected by a motorable road to Idalippara, the first tribal settlement. The government pays for ration goods, but it is unaffordable for transportation of personal goods.
“Also, only a better stretch can facilitateemergency medical care to the inhabitants,” he said. Animal lovers said donkeys should be used only as the final option. “Donkeys may be pressed into service if there are no other choices.
But, proper care of the animal and checking the spread of infectious diseases to domestic and wildanimals are important,” said I Latha, trustee of the People for Animals in the capital.
Pack donkeys were banned in Sabarimala in 2012 after animal lovers raised a hue and cry.