NERIAMANGALAM: Neriamangalam, which is located on the border of Ernakulam and Idukki districts, is always hailed as the Cherrapunjee of Kerala. But local residents area never want their town to be known by this sobriquet. For them, rain triggers panic as most of the landslides in the area happen during heavy rain.
Panic gripped the town on Wednesday evening following minor landfalls and ‘soil piping’ in the ‘46-acre valley’, bordering the forest. Though Revenue Department officials shifted 118 members of 41 families to Neriamangalam Vocational HSS on Wednesday night as a precautionary measure, residents and experts who visited the area fear yet another landslide.
“The situation is a bit serious now as we could witness several cracks on the hills. Several boulders have been dislodged because of minor landslips. However, the trees on the hill slopes prevent them from crashing down. If rain continues to lash the area, there is a possibility of landslides,” said an expert who visited the area along with officials of Geology, Soil Conservation, DDMA, Forest and Fire and Rescue Services Department.
When Express interacted with a few residents, they said a stream originating from the hill has had disappeared. “The stream vanished completely. Rainwater is now coming down through the fissures in the hills. If rainwater flows like this, it can loosen the mud. We are living with fear as we can’t ignore the possibility of a landslide,” said Rasheed PM, a resident.
Residents are not ready to move to the camp
However, those who were shifted to relief camp are not ready to follow the instructions of the Revenue Department. Even the relief camp opened at Neriamangalam Higher Secondary School on Wednesday night looked deserted on Thursday morning as all inmates went home. “Last week, we spent two days at the camp, but nothing happened.We will move to our relatives’ house if the rain intensifies,” said Peter P Melkunnel, a resident of Thattakkanni who has rented a house at Neriamangalam following landslides near his home town.
Meanwhile, the department said all arrangements have been made at the camp. “Though we have asked residents to stay at the camp many of them are not ready to heed our request. If rain continues to lash the area, the situation is likely to worsen. The camp will be dispersed only if intensity of rain comes down,” said Bharathan K S, village officer, Neriamangalam, adding that traffic is to be regulated on the Aluva-Idukki route if rain pounds the area. Meanwhile, the team which inspected the landslide area at Neriamangalam along with revenue officials is expected to submit a report to the State Disaster Management Authority within a few days.