Landslides uproot families forever in this Ghat village

Landslides uproot families forever in this Ghat village

The damaged homes and snapped power lines, following landslides, have torn many live asunder at Malemane near Kottigehara in Mudigere taluk of Chikkamagaluru district. dh photo/B H Shivakumar

The sense of gloom was palpable among women who returned to Alekhan Horatti from relief camps 13 days after they left the sleepy village off Charmadi Ghat in fear of landslides. They were mentally preparing to leave the village forever.

Landslides have cut through the 4-km uphill road, with 10-metre to 50-metre stretches turning into ravines. The repair work to fill mud into the gorges has been hit by steady rain, turning most of the road into knee-deep slush.

Residents of 36 houses evacuated to a relief centre near Mudigere have been told to shift away from the village permanently to avoid a possible disaster as witnessed in Madhugundi, Channahadlu, Balur Horatti and Durgadahalli, where landslides claimed 10 lives. 

For the past two weeks, Veerappa Gowda and four others walked the treacherous road every alternate day to reach the village and feed the cattle and other animals left behind. The women who came back from the relief camp on Saturday gasped at the destruction, especially the 50-metre ravine that had cut through the road near the IBC Coffee Estate. 

Mudigere tahsildar Ramesh said no decision has been taken with regard to shifting the residents. "A discussion was held keeping in mind the safety of the residents in Alekhan Horatti. A discussion with the residents was held to take them into confidence. Any decision will be taken by the government," he said.

In the relief camp, officials have offered to shift the entire village. Irrespective of the property owned, every family will get a two-acre plantation, a site to build a house and Rs 5 lakh in financial aid.

"When we saw the waters rising above three feet in the village, we didn't know it would come to this. On the one hand, there is the fear of a landslide wiping out the entire village next time. On the other, migrating from here means abandoning a part of myself. My great grandfather was born and brought up here. Every corner here is part of memory. To leave it permanently is very difficult," Gowda said.

Pramila H N, who came to the village 25 years ago when she married Gowda, was in tears. "We worked on six acres of the plantation from scratch. The last 10 years of expenditure and labour was beginning to give results. We don't know how to convince ourselves to leave this place," she said.

H K Gopal Gowda recounted tales of his grandfather dating back to 100 years. "I am a 60-year-old person who is supposed to retire by leaving something for my children. Now I have to work from the start to raise a coffee plantation," he said.

Gold stolen from flood survivor's house

Ratna M S and H K Ramesh who returned to Alekhan Horatti after spending 13 days in the relief camp were shocked to find that thieves have broken into their house and stolen gold jewellery and Rs 4,000 in cash.

"The backdoor of the house was broken. The 20-gram gold chain I had kept in the trunk was gone. My husband had carried almost all the cash, but left behind Rs 4,000. All of that is gone," she said.

Ramesh said he was yet to file a police complaint. "The entire village is suffering. I don't feel like I should make it a big deal right now," he said. The value of the chain is about Rs 75,000.