Once called Mini Ooty and with a 'Kashmir' nearby, Kerala's Puthumala now inconsolable

 "When will we get back our old life, sir...? " Saleem Poothrathodiyil asked the Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally. His concern is one that every person in Puthumala shares...

Published: 12th August 2019 08:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2019 08:17 PM   |  A+A-


Nearly 100 acres of tea estate land, along with a temple, mosque, post office and a plantation company's canteen, were washed away on August 8th evening in Puthumala, in Wayanad, which is the epicentre of the rain fury in Kerala. (Photo | TP Sooraj, EPS)

Express News Service

PUTHUMALA: "When will we get back our old life, sir...? How long do we have to suffer this orphaned plight? I am only left with this dress I am wearing," Saleem Poothrathodiyil asked Ramachandran Kadannappally, Minister for Ports, Museums, Archaeology and Archives. The minister was at the landslide-hit Puthumala to oversee the search operation on Monday.

Saleem's concern is one that every person whom Express has met here since Thursday has shared. Uncertainty about their future is writ large on their faces.

64 houses gone

As many as 64 houses at Pachakkad, Puthumala, have been flattened, confirms Sub Collector NSK Umesh.

Ramsheed, cousin of Saleem, said many of these houses were new.

"Our grandfathers and fathers sweated it out in the tea estate as labourers to own these pieces of land and build houses on them. We were a happy lot. There was a small cardamom, pepper and coffee cultivation for sustenance. Now, the entire land is full of boulders and deep slush. We cannot live here nor cultivate anything," Ramsheed said.

Noufal S, another youth, agrees. They say the government must now provide them with land somewhere else.

Also Read - Survivors' tales from Kerala's Kavalappara: 'We were lucky, but life is now unbearable'

'Mini Ooty' no more

The villagers called their picturesque Puthumala 'Mini Ooty'. They have pristine greenery all around, stream water gushing in, Chooralmala and the Kalladi river nearby and a great bonding of people irrespective of religion and Malayalam and Tamil ethnicity.

Close to Puthumala is a place called 'Kashmir'. Perhaps, someone enchanted by its natural beauty named it so.

"On Bakrid, we used to pray in the mosque and distribute 'payasam' to each household here. But today, I am thinking of where to start even if it is from the scratch. Most of the people have no other property or livelihood sources," said Navas P.

Also Read - With seven of his family under debris, Sunil refuses to leave Kavalappara landslide site

No body recovered

No body was recovered at Puthumala on Monday.

Due to Bakrid, there was a shortage of volunteers compared to the past two days. Two earthmovers were stuck in the deep slush.

The Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS) has been roped in, with more earthmovers, on Tuesday.

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