Hills Echo Lack of Facilities

Nature has blessed Neriyamangalam with beauty, but the government has failed to provide the town with basic facilities. Our reporter Rahul Preeth and lensman Albin Mathew highlight the problems

Published: 06th July 2015 06:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2015 06:34 AM   |  A+A-

NERIYAMANGALAM:To an urban tourist, this rather picturesque town tucked away in the eastern tip of Ernakulam district is likely to look like a country retreat at the threshold of becoming a more appealing winter destination like Munnar.

Naturally, the government is keen to tap the tourism potential of the place. But to those who have made Neriyamangalam their home - those who have grown accustomed to the allures of a village bathed in rural resplendence - there are some basic demands they want the government to look into, before it went digging into exploiting the tourism possibilities of the region.

One of the longstanding demands here is the construction of an alternative bridge across Periyar to replace the 80-year-old Neriyamangalam Bridge, which the locals complain is narrow, weak and dangerous.


Narrow bridge

The bridge, constructed by the British and inaugurated on March 2, 1935, is the only road link between Idukki and Ernakulam in the eastern front. It is 4.9 metres wide and 240 metres long. As a result, traffic snarl-ups are a regular occurrence here and one of the biggest drawbacks of the town.

During peak hours in the mornings and evenings, the bridge, which struggles to accommodate two buses side by side at the same time, is flooded by a swarm of vehicles from both the directions.

Though the people here have been demanding for a new bridge, while keeping the old one intact as a heritage structure because of its colonial British architecture, they say it has been falling on deaf ears.


Lack of 24X7 medical care

Another major problem that troubles the residents here is the lack of full-time availability of medical care. Within the radius of 20 kilometres from Neriyamangalam, there is only one hospital.

The Nerimangalam Community Health Centre, located at the heart of the town next to the village office, was converted in principal from a primary medical facility in 2006. But it still pretty much functions as a primary hospital.

While a community health centre is required to function 24 hours and cater to the emergency medical needs of the people, the one in Neriamangalam  opens at 10 am and closes at 2 pm. In case of emergencies, such accidents, after 2 pm, the residents either have to rush the victims to the next hospital some 20 km away in Kothamangalam or send word to the local doctors to come and open the community health centre. In both the cases, a lot of time gets wasted.

“A bus full of students from Thiruvanthapuram met with an accident here last year. It happened late in the evening and around 30 students got injured. Some of them were seriously hurt. When we rushed them to the community health centre, it was closed,” said local resident Ratheesh Babu.

The rescuers then had to take some of the injured to a hospital in Kothamangalam, he said.


No grounds to play football

Neriyamangalam is home to some of the best sports talents in the state. However, the region does not have a single decent ground fit enough to organise a game, despite the presence of large swathes of vacant government land. The only ground the children and aspiring sportspersons depend on to play football here is the playground of the Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Neriyamangalam.

However, now the school management is going to construct some buildings on the ground. “Football is a passion here, but there is no ground good enough to host a match in the region,” said Shibu AS, a local resident.


Scope for IT job generation

Most of the population in Neriyamangalam is engaged in agricultural, local trade and manual labour. However, a large section of the younger generation are educated and are looking for jobs within the locality.

Ward member and Youth Congress Idukki general secretary Saijan Chacko said that if the government rolled out a village IT Park it would be a great help to a large number of educated and unemployed youth in the region. “If the government offers help to the local administration in setting up an IT park here, it will be beneficial to a lot of youngsters,” he said.


The Problems at a Glance

  • The 80-year-old Neriyamangalam Bridge is narrow, weak and dangerous
  • Locals want a new bridge and preserve the old one as a heritage monument
  • Lack of 24X7 medical care. Community Health Centre, opens at 10 am and closes at 2 pm
  • There are no grounds in the hill town
  • The economy is agriculture based. Lack of job opportunity haunts young generation  A village IT park would solve this problem


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