NELLIAMPATHY: It was a backbreaking ride in a four-wheel-drive jeep which tossed us throughout the arduous 8 km journey from Pullayampara to Vazhakundu in Nelliampathy where estate manager P G Krishnan Nair and five Adivasi families along with their children and grandchildren live.
Abbas, who was at the wheel, kept on reassuring us there is nothing to worry as the vehicle swayed and swung violently as it moved across the rough terrain.
Krishnan Nair and the Adivasi families were rescued after four days and they shudder as they recount the harrowing tale which happened on August 16, 2018.
There was no road or mobile connectivity to contact anyone. If we walked around 10 km we could have reached Tamil Nadu but the path was infested with wild animals.
“It was a nightmare and the fact that we are alive today is purely God’s grace. The mud walled house with sheets was located on an elevated place. In the front yard of the house, there was a river.”
By 8.30 pm there was a rumbling sound and in the evening itself we noticed that the water in the river had changed its colour to brown.
The Adivasis warned of some unusual happenings but I shrugged it off. Suddenly there was a loud thud. As there was no power, I shone my torch through the window.
The river in front of our house had breached its banks and large boulders, as large as a house, were rolling down. We did not think twice.”
“We didn’t even pause to take an umbrella . There was a large hill, Karimala in the backyard. The Adivasi families, including women, and myself climbed up the hill and sat there till morning,” said Nair, who is the manager of the Katallapara Estate now called Jolly Plantations.
According to Krishnan Nair, hailing from Anchal in Kollam, who has been living here for the last 22 years after migrating,
“As we sat atop the hill, around 1 pm there was a landslide again near us. We ran from there and took refuge on another hilltop. By then, I had collapsed due to the rain and chill. The Adivasis then tied a cloth around my legs and body and saved me from certain death”.
“The only source of power in the house was the solar panels which was set up at a cost of `3.5 lakh.” “Now, the river is full of large boulders.If the boulders had come just a few yards to the left of its course, our hut would also have gone. Though the walls cracked, it did not collapse. I am surprised that the mud hut withstood the deluge.