The name Kammatipaadam became popular after Rajeev Ravi's critically acclaimed film of the same name from last year, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Vinayakan in the lead. Set in the 1980s, the film reflects the life of the working class, who were initial inhabitants of the area, way before Kochi became the busy and happening city that it is today.
The film drew widespread praise for its realistic portrayal of the lives of the working class but most people who watched Kammatipaadam might not be aware that the place actually exists and its residents go through the struggles shown in the film every day.
Life is hard for over 50 families living in Kammatipaadam, located at the heart of Kochi but surrounded by railway tracks on three sides. Locked in by the rail tracks, the residents, who live in the 5 sq km area, have no means to get out of the place without crossing the tracks on foot.
The situation leaves the residents at the mercy of the railways for pretty much everything. They will be stuck in the area if a train is halted on the tracks before them, either for some repair work or to transfer goods. They need to obtain its permission from the railway authorities to even dig a pit or repair a water pipe in the area, and it has to come all the way from the Southern Railways headquarters in Chennai.
Water-logging and overflow of waste from nearby canals trouble Kammatipaadam residents during the monsoon season. The colony is attacked by flu and other diseases as urban filth, including human excreta, floats around the area during the rainy season. Meanwhile, shortage of drinking water and accumulation plastic bottles and other waste thrown from trains are a menace round the year.
KL Babu, 56, a headload worker died in Kammatipaadam on Monday due to cardiac arrest. According to a The New Indian Express report, Babu's family had tried to take him to hospital soon after he developed chest pain but they couldn’t do so as the track in front of the colony was occupied by a train. They eventually had to carry him to the hospital on shoulder through a circuitous route but the doctors declared him 'dead on arrival'.
Unfortunately, such incidents are not rare occurances in Kammatipaadam. Throughout the years several lives have been lost due to the lack of help at the right time.
“They are the original residents owning land there for decades. But even for a minor issue like damage to water pipes, the Kochi Corporation could do nothing as it requires the nod of the Southern Railway headquarters in Chennai, a lengthy process that extends up to three months. The area is yet to see the light of development on many fronts due to this,” a Deccan Chronicle report quoted Gandhi Nagar councillor Poornima Narayan as saying.