Kerala Forest Department pitches in on rescue operations
August 12, 2019: The death toll from the recent rains in Kerala stands at 80, with 58 people missing and 2.5 lakh living at 1639 relief camps, as per ANI news agency. At least 2,966 houses have been damaged completely.
This time too, people have rallied around to help those in need. Among them is the Kerala Forest Department staff. Braving their way through landslides and surging river waters, the officers and their staff have once again joined hands with others to rescue people in some of the remote and hilly tracts of forests in Wayanad, Palakkad and Malappuram districts. In fact, during rescue attempts, some of the staff found themselves caught in the gushing waters at Nedumgayam in Edavanna range of Nilambur (in Malappuram). Luckily they jumped out of the vehicle in time, before it was submerged.
The South Wayanad FD staff were able to successfully rescue 52 estate workers stranded in Ranimala and Dumdum estates near the Nilambur-Wayanad boundary, located some 15 km away from Puthumala-Meppadi where the largescale landslide had claimed many lives. All rescued people were camped in Meppadi relief camps maintained by Revenue Department. Since all road connectivity to the Ranimala was cut off, the team trekked through the estates and forest hillocks to reach the remote location and rescue them.
The Kottiyoor Sanctuary (Kannur) staff helped shift 43 families from Thazhe Palchuram colony to Relief Camp started at Ambayathodu UP School. Besides providing assistance at the camp, they undertook clearance work at Palchuram Ghat road which was blocked by landslide.
At Kakkayam in Kozhikode district, the FD staff was involved in the rescue of 14 Adivasi families, working with the panchayat, and police personnel, according to the PROs’ office. Bridges were built to access remote regions of Wayanad and Nilambur, as also in Idukki where a tribal settlement was isolated.
The FD staff has been working with other wings of the government at the relief centres, 200 of which were opened in Wayanad alone. This time it is the northern parts of Kerala that have been most affected, with Meppadi in Wayanad and Kavalapara in Malappuram bearing the brunt.
In Srikantapuram, Kannur, houses were flooded in rains never seen in two decades, while in Mattanur, a big house collapsed like a pack of cards! In Kavalapaara and Puthumala which saw the most deadly landslides, NDRF and others were still trying to dig up the bodies buried on Monday. Many hilly areas of Palakkad district also were affected by landslides. Some tribal colonies like Vaniyampuzha were cut off by overflowing river which was tough even for the NDRF men to cross.