PATHANAMTHITTA: Whenever dark clouds gather in the sky in Pathanamthitta, the heartbeats of people residing even inside strong and concrete double-storey houses increase with fear of calamities. But Malampandaram tribal families living in forest areas under ripped plastic and tarpaulin sheets with their children do not fear rain like the people in villages and cities.
Their only worry is they are unable to go to the deep forest to collect produce due to the rain. They have not even heard of ‘relief camp’ in their lives. “I have been seeing heavy rain since my childhood and none of us fear rain though we live under plastic sheets. We are living in hilly regions inside the forest and we don’t have the threat of flood. The only threat we face is the landslide and landslip. But we have not witnessed any such major occurrence so far. Though minor landslips occur in our hamlet, we can easily manage them,” said 23-year-old Reji of Malampandaram tribe at Moozhiyar.
“During heavy rain earlier, trees sometimes got uprooted in our hamlet and we would remove them immediately. We mainly depend on forest produce for livelihood and during rainy season, it is not possible for us to go inside the deep forest,” said Reji.
‘During rain, we live under tarpaulin sheet’
“If it rains heavily, we spend our life in our hamlet. But from yesterday (Monday), sky has been clear. So, people from our hamlet have started going inside the forest to collect the produce,” said Reji. “Now, mainly our parents go inside the forest to collect the produce. We, youngsters, engage in cage fish farming in Kakki-Anathodu dam with the help of the state government. As many as 100 members of our community are expected to get jobs under this project.
Already, 25 of us are working under the scheme. We get Rs 400 each daily in remuneration. It is very helpful to us,” he said. During heavy rain, Malampandaram people spend their time in their hamlet and cook food with the items being given by the tribal department. Every month, the department gives 15 kg of rice and other grocery items, besides ration items.
“During the rainy season, we confine ourself to our shacks covered with tarpaulin sheets. We are okay with it. I have my wife, four children and mother living with me. All of us live under the tarpaulin sheet,” said Madhu who lives at Manjathodu. Kochumon, Scheduled Tribe promoter of Moozhiyar, said Malampandaram people live inside the forest and they don’t have any fear when the hilly areas and forest witness heavy rain.
“They are not very interested in coming out and living in our society. They like to spend their life inside the forests. Now, we are slowly bringing them into our social life,” he said. According to tribal department officials, 252 Malampandaram families are living in Pathanamthitta district and 92 of them families are still leading a nomadic life inside the forest. The Malampandaram families can mainly be seen in Manjathodu, Moozhiyar and Plappally areas.