A tribal community in Idukki district of Kerala is doing its bit to fight COVID-19. To prevent the viral infection in the remote village of Edamalakkudy, its residents have been under a self-declared lockdown since July 1.
The residents of Edamalakkudy in Idukki, which falls under the Munnar Wildlife Division, is the first tribal panchayat in Kerala.
According to Edamalakkudy Vana Samrakshana Samithi (VSS) secretary Ramesh, the residents unanimously decided to follow a ‘self lockdown’ to prevent COVID-19 transmission among the tribal settlements. “They decided not to move out from Edamalakkudy till the disease transmission is considerably under control,” he said.
This move is in addition to the existing ban on entry for outsiders into this tribal village. In June, the director of Scheduled Tribes Development Department sent a circular to the Munnar division, directing the officials concerned to ban the entry of outsiders into Edamalakkudy.
Eravikulam range officer Job J Neriamparampil said, “As per the direction from Munnar Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), we banned the entry of outsiders to Edamalakkudy tribal hamlet due to the pandemic. We allow only Edamalakkudy natives to enter the hamlet from the stretch that passes through the Eravikulam national park. When the COVID-19 that spreading, the members of the tribal community continued to remain in their settlements and ventured out only for emergency needs.”
Munnar range officer Hareendrakumar told TNM that the tribal community in Idukki district is following their own way to prevent contracting and spreading the disease. “They took the decision without any direction from the state government. The forest department will support their decision," he added.
File image of Edamalakkudy tribal panchayat in Idukki
According to the officials, the tribals have also decided that if any person from their community goes out of Edamalakkudy, they should be in home quarantine for 14 days.
As per the 2011 Census, there are 2,400 residents in Edamalakudy. According to the current data from the Devikulam Primary Health Centre, only 2,126 people live in the 24 out of the 28 tribal settlements of Edamalakudy.
When COVID-19 started spreading across the state, the tribal communities started practising physical distancing in their own way and banned entry from outside to their homes. They started receiving information about the disease through radio sets and health workers, who also taught them about handwashing. The tribal hamlets in Adimali area in Idukki erected boards at the entry points, stating a ban on entry for outsiders.
Board in Adimali banning entry for outsiders