An isolated panchayat’s plight: People turn milk into curd and feed it to pigs

On March 24 — two days after the Janta Curfew — Karnataka police dumped truckloads of mud at Chemberi — the border of Kodagu and Kasaragod districts.

Published: 01st April 2020 03:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st April 2020 03:14 AM   |  A+A-

Mud piled up on the road at Chemberi, entry point of Karike panchayat | EXPRESS

Express News Service

KASARGOD: On March 24 — two days after the Janta Curfew — Karnataka police dumped truckloads of mud at Chemberi — the border of Kodagu and Kasaragod districts. The police had done that in the run-up to the curfew along the border of Dakshina Kannada district too. The idea was to insulate the state from Kasaragod, where the number of Covid-19 cases touched 108 on Tuesday. But unlike other parts of Dakshina Kannada, the blockade at Chemberi isolated an entire panchayat of Karnataka itself. For all practical purposes, Karike grama panchayat in Kodagu district was an appendage of Kerala.

“We depend on Panathur in Panathady panchayat of Kasaragod for our grocery shopping and hospital needs. Our milk society is also at Panathur,” said Balachandran Kattor, the p re s i d e n t o f Karike panchayat. Even electricity to the panchayat with a population of 5,700 persons is supplied by Kerala State Electricity Board. To be sure, there are villages in Kasaragod where Karnataka government supplies power. Panathur is 6km from Karike.

People fill petrol in their vehicles at Balathode, 5km away, in Kerala. Balachandran said the blockade has hit the dairy farmers of Karike the most. The panchayat produces around 250 litres of milk everyday. “Since the blockade, we are turning milk into curd and feeding it to our pigs. What else can we do,” asked N G Gangadhara, manager of a cooperative bank and dairy farmer. He has nine cows. He said there are around 30 dairy farmers. “I hope the police will help us to at least deliver the milk to the society,” Gangadhara said.


Till now, the people have not run into any medical emergency, said N G Gangadhara. “For medicines, we have a pharmacist in Panathur. His name is Narayanan Nair. A good man. He is giving us medicine on credit. We will pay him once the lockdown is lifted,” he said. The nearest town to Karike on the Karnataka side is Bhagamandala. “To reach Bhagamandala, we have to travel 15km through the reserve forest, and half of the road is not in good shape either,” said the panchayat president.

We go there only for official purposes as the village and taluk officers are there,” he said. On Tuesday, Naveen B B,38, an arecanut plucker had to go to hospital. He suffered a deep cut which required 42 stitches. “He went to a hospital in Sullia after travelling 100km. If the Panathur route was open, it would have been onlya 23- km journey,” said Ramanatha Gowda, a panchayat member. Though we are facing a lot of inconvenience, it is necessary to keep out the coronavirus, he said. “The inconvenience is inevitable. Somehow, we will manage,” he said.

Karnataka police’s road blockade has cut off Karike panchayat
The panchayat depends on
Panathur in Kasaragod for all its needs

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