The extreme weather conditions prevailing in the district is silently and steadily claiming cattle, elephants, deer and human population of tribal hamlets.
People of villages near Hogenakkal rue that every day four to five goats die in their area due to the acute drought prevailing in the region at present.
Residents of the area blame the officials for their sheer inaction and insensitivity to the serious situation in their hamlets. “We have been hit by severe drought but not a single official has turned to our villages till now. If this situation continues even our survival will be under threat,” said Chinnamal, a resident of Billigundu.
There are several small hills around Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts which are home for thousands of people belonging to the Irulas and the Malayali tribes. The latter are not from Kerala but are very much a tribal clan of Tamil Nadu.
The traditional occupation of these tribes is rearing cattle and they depend on their animals for livelihood. However, the drought is slowly killing one of their most prized possessions in large numbers.
“Pastures have wilted due to decline in rainfall and the subsequent blazing summer. Because of this seven goats have died. We cannot tolerate the death of our cattle. If the situation persists, we will have no option other than ending our lives,” she rued.
Nagappan, an elder of the village, says, “Palm can survive the severest of droughts. If that tree also wilts, we will head towards a severe famine. For the first time in 18 years am I seeing thousands of palm trees standing withered. It is not a good sign.”