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Nelliampathy, a difficult trek away

3,000-odd people stranded; clearing the road to Nenmara will take a few more days

The flash floods and landslips triggered by torrential rains have virtually isolated the hill station of Nelliampathy. Over 3,000 people, mainly plantation workers and tribespeople, have been stranded for four days. As there was a warning against entry of tourists beyond the Pothundy dam, the doorway to the hills, in view of the heavy rains, it is believed that no outsider is trapped in resorts and hotels.

As rain sent huge rocks hurtling down the road to Nenmara, no vehicle can enter the region. Rapid Action Force personnel clearing the road said it would take at least a fortnight to complete the work and erect temporary bridges at two key points, where landslips had washed away bridges.

With 400-odd families living in the hills facing scarcity of essential commodities, including food, 50 volunteers of the Palakkad Flood Relief Forum reached Nelliampathy by Saturday evening, trekking through difficult terrains, carrying huge quantities of commodities.

They started the distribution drive by 4 p.m. The district administration said the existing stock at the local Maveli store and two primary schools would be used to meet requirements till Monday morning. By then, more commodities would be delivered using the services of headload workers.

Landslips in 14 places

Local health worker Joyson Jayaseelan said there were landslips in at least 14 places within a 25-km radius of the hill station in the last four days. Huge trees were uprooted at 70 places. The worst affected is Pulayanpara. Most families are facing hardships in the absence of electricity, food, and safe drinking water. Reaching the nearest town, Nenmara, in the foothills would require a trek through difficult terrain for about 40 km.

Meanwhile, an official statement issued by Minister for Law A.K. Balan on Saturday morning created confusion as it claimed that rescue workers had cleared the Nelliampathy road facilitating entry of jeeps. The statement said the district administration had already begun sending relief materials through the road.

Mediapersons who reached Nenmara after reading the press statement were prevented by the officials from going to Nelliampathy, saying that the road was not cleared. Mr. Balan clarified that he was misled by certain officials who provided false information. The PRD issued a modified statement saying that it will take a few more days to clear the roads. No houses were destroyed and there was no inundation in Nelliampathy, it said.

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