Shrinking population, pending demands mark their woes

Shrinking population, pending demands mark their woes

Fifty-five acres of land, rotund in shape, replete with green and surrounded by water of river Netravathi throughout the year, makes ‘Pavoor Uliya’ a perfect island, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Unlike St Mary’s Island at Malpe Beach in the neighbouring Udupi district, a popular tourist destination, Uliya (means leftover) is most known for its rather reclusive population of less than 200, living with their demands from several decades.

Though close to city by 10 km, there is no proper road connectivity while every other basic amenity like electricity connection and drinking water supply is intact. The solar lamp at the entrance of the island is the only street light with most of them used to cellphone torches and handheld torches to even strut for a distance.

As the promises remained on papers, the once-populated island with close to 60 households has come down to 38, with most shifting to safer areas in Mangaluru city and new fangled localities for the sake of their offsprings. Those left are still engaged in fishing and rolling beedis for living. Some others have found jobs in the nearby private establishments.

No medical help
Flavi D’Souza, who lost her husband Bazil D’Souza 17 years ago, blamed the lack of road connectivity for her husband’s death.“My husband complained of chest pain and was rushed to Adyar Katte on boat from the rear side of the island. But by the time he was shifted to a cab, he had lost his life,” she said.

Similar is the complaint of young lass Sweety D’Souza whose father Herald D’Souza did not make it to home after going to doctor.

D’Souza went on his own by boat to the clinic and was prescribed some medicines by the doctor. He went to a hotel nearby to take the medicine, collapsed and died.

With no hospital nearby, they are largely dependent on the hospitals at Kankanady, the primary locality in Mangaluru city, 10 km away from the island.

Plight of students
Flavi said, if that is the plight of elders, the kids and youngsters have to travel to city for attending classes in schools and colleges. The only government lower primary school of the Zilla Panchayat, was closed six years ago.

With no school at elementary level, even kids have to be ferried on boats to schools. With only one boat (bought by raising donation for the chapel) in disposal, the school- and college-going children have to start at 6.30 am itself, the time when boat resumes service, till it stops for the day at 8.30 pm. It costs Rs 10 for a two-way trip.

In case of any exigency, the boatmen Bazil D’Souza and Ivan Ferrao are available on phone. They do not have complaints to ferry people in needy from the other side of the shore to the island, Flavi said.

No shop
Similarly, they have to run errands, on boat again, even for a piece of bread or a packet of milk, and also for monthly ration and the list goes on.

The only shop adjoining the house of Philip D’Souza at the entrance has closed several years ago. The only well within the precincts of chapel is called as ‘Miracle Pond’ for the water tasting sweet. It’s the only alternative, when the salt water takes a toll on their health.

Hiss visitors
Snakes are regular visitors, with most having complaints of pythons devouring their poultries at night. The only school that closed a few years ago, was a haven for snakes with  the alumnus having many such ‘hiss’ encounters.

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