450 families in this village surrounded by river and forest crying for survival
Erumeli: Arayanjilimon is a village surrounded by river and forest near Erumeli in Kottayam. Around 420 families are struggling here with the natural calamities during monsoon and threat from wild animals.
Arayanjilimon natives have been isolated from the outside world due to the challenges from nature. During rains, they get trapped in their houses without any hope of rehabilitation. So far, these people have not received title deeds for their farm land.
Land of wild jack tree
Most of the natives of the village are descendants of the people who migrated to the village for doing agriculture after the second world war.
This village was named after the wild jack tree which is largely found in this area. It was 90 years ago, people migrated to this village surrounded by forest on one side and river on other three sides, said a senior citizen here.
Agriculture faces challenges
Rubber, banana, tapioca, coco and pepper are the major crops cultivated in this village. The farmers complained that threat from wild animals is the main issue faced by them. Wild elephants, wild boar and wild squirrels often destroy the crops. It is reported that wild elephants used to roam even on the courtyard of the houses.
Causeway, only path to the village
A causeway over river Pamba is the only road which connects Arayanjilimon to the outside world. Journey through this path is dangerous when water level increases in Pamba.
Earlier, a hanging bridge was used for travelling to and fro. As this bridge was destroyed in the floods, the causeway was constructed in 1992 with the cooperation of Fr Vadakkemuri and Punalur Bishop.
The causeway was inaugurated in 1995 during a monsoon. But it was inundated during the monsoon soon after the inauguration. Though the causeway gets filled with water every monsoon, the floods in 2018 left the natives in panic. This village was completely isolated for five days due to the overflowing river. Hanging bridge and water tank were destroyed in the flood. Food and medicines were taken to the village after tying a rope across the river.
The natives have found a parallel route to travel from the village as an alternative. They have arranged a temporary route through the forest. If anyone gets injured by accident, people can carry the person through this route. Once they reach near the Perunthenaruvi dam, they can access transportation facility.
“We have been waiting for the title deed of our farm land. We are unable to take loan for marriage and education by pledging our land as we don’t have any documents to prove our ownership. Because of this, we are not getting any financial aid for agriculture too,” complained Jaimon Mathew, a native.
Perunad grama panchayat former president VM Sudhakaran stated that a new bridge should be constructed immediately for the people. As this village is situated on the boundary of forest range, fencing works should be done to prevent wild animals from straying into the farm lands.