Wayanad district had recently witnessed a fierce civil campaign against the ban on night traffic along the stretch of National Highway passing through forests bordering Kerala and neighbouring Karnataka state. People here have been facing untold misery over the last decade with the curbs on traffic movement at night imposed in a bid to protect animals.
A pressing need of people in Wayanad is proper transport infrastructure. A medical college too would benefit them immensely. The recent tragedy in which a 10-year-old local girl named Shahla Sherin lost her life in Bathery after snakebite in her classroom exposes the dire need for swift road connectivity and facilities for emergency medical care within the district.
Though the girl was taken to the nearby hospital after a delay, she couldn't receive the right medical care at the local hospital. She was rushed to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital which was almost 100 km away and died on the way as was to be expected as a snakebite victim should be given medical aid within three hours.
Many lives have been lost in Wayanad due to the difficulty in accessing medical facilities in the absence of adequate roads. During heavy monsoons, even small landslides can hinder transportation through the ghats.
The district hosts several educational institutions where students from across the state have enrolled. They mostly reside in hostels and face total isolation like other local residents when roads get blocked when the weather is foul.
The construction of Nilambur-Nenjangud railway line and throwing open the road through Bandipur National Forest at night could go a long way in alleviating the misery of people across Wayanad.
Taking the geographical aspect of the district into account, famed civil engineer E Sreedharan had proposed building underground railway tunnels with minimal forest destruction.
"During the floods in August, I had to go to Kozhikode through Thamarassery ghats to reach Kuttiady as landslides occurred in the Kuttiady ghats. When I reached Kozhikode, I came to know that transportation via Thamarassery had also come to a standstill. My parents are worried about my stay here despite the good education I receive here," says Amaya, a graduation student of Kalpetta Government College.
The cases of many other students' aren't different.
The government needs to develop sound infrastructure across Wayanad lest more lives would be lost and people continue to wallow in misery.
(The opinions expressed are personal)