Kozhikode: There was an unusual gathering on the banks of the Iruvazhinji River at Theyyathum Kadavu in Kodiyathur, Kozhikode on Tuesday. Hundreds of people in the locality had organised a 'puzha sadass' (roughly translates to a gathering on a river bank) in protest of an 'otter menace' in the river.
“We want to take a bath in our river safely, please send the otters away,” said the gathering. For those from outside this gathering might not strike much relevance but for the protesters, it was an important one. Among those assembled were at least 50 persons who had been bitten by otters.
At least 200 people have been bitten by otters of the Iruvazhinji River in the last five years. The meeting was organised by 'Ente Swontham Iruvazhinji Koottayma'.
The main demand of the protesters was assurance of safety for people who got into the river. The meeting has called for fixing metal nets on bathing ghats.
Another demand was regarding compensation for those bitten by the otters. The participants of the meeting said the authorities usually provide for the injection (anti-rabies vaccine) and the travel expense, but that is not enough.
“The present aid is not sufficient, we demand a compensation of Rs 10,000,” said PKC Mohammed, a participant in the agitation. They said those bitten by the otters have a temporary loss of livelihood.
Moreover, “it is too painful and the wound would bleed continuously,” said Latheef, who was bitten by an otter. He says he received 32 shots of the vaccine on both legs.
Wildlife researchers Dr Jayasuryan and Dr Arun Sathyan led a discussion on the issue. “No other place in Kerala is affected (otter menace) like this,” said Dr Sathyan, a veterinary surgeon in the Forest Department.
The meeting had the support of the grama panchayats of Kodiyathur and Karassery and the Mukkam Municipality, which share the Iruvazhinji River. Municipality Chairman PT Babu inaugurated the gathering. Kodiyathur panchayat president Divya Shibu presided over in the presence of Karassery panchayat president VP Smitha and KT Naser Erakkodan, General Secretary of the 'Koottayma'.