KURICHIYARMALA: The road to the ‘former’ settlement on the hill, where a major landslide wiped off everything in its path, remains blocked. Anybody wishing to reach Kurichiyarmala has only one option - walk. The ‘footpath’ winds up along a hard terrain defaced by incessant rain for over 2 km from Melmuri, a small village within the limits of Kalpetta block.
On August 9, a split second was all it took for the entire area of Kurichiyarmala to be swept away by the landslide. Nothing is now left in the place other than a razed landscape. Huge rocks have been ‘installed’ at the top while muddy water flows down as small channels. To one side of Kurichiyarmala sat Premkumar, 39, looking up the hill. His 52 cents of land was washed away in the landslide. He had come to the place hearing that officers from the village office were coming to inspect the area.
He said the landslide destroyed around five houses, as if they had vanished into thin air. “I don’t know how to explain. The landscape here was not like this. Everything has been damaged,” Premkumar said.
There were about 14 families in the area, and all of them have lost their houses. Nobody is there in Kurichiyarmala now.“Those who have lost their houses were shifted to a temporary house,” said Noushad Puthukkudy, joining Premkumar.
“Now, they have moved to their relatives’ houses. None of them seem to be willing to come back. The residents of the area are all planning to leave the place.” They have never even heard of such incidents happening before.“My family had moved to this place during my grandfather’s time,” Premkumar said.
“The 52 cents is in the name of my grandmother who is still alive. Aged 90, even she hasn’t witnessed heavy rain like this year.”
Though village officers inspected the area, none of the residents who have endured damage has received aid from the government.“Even the immediate relief of `10,000 has not been received,” said Premkumar, who has no property other than the 52 cents swept away in the landslide. “As my mother works in the Kurichiyarmala estate, we are living in the estate quarters. It hasn’t been affected. So we have house. But that’s not our property. We were planning to sell our property at Kurichiyarmala to buy land in some other place. Our only hope now is the government will do something.”
This is not just the case of Kurichiyarmala. According to officers, Wayanad district suffered 47 landslides, with Makkimala and Sugandhagiri among the affected areas. The devastation has been such that no human life is possible in these places. Even the debris of the collapsed buildings have not been removed.