The monsoon is raining misery and the Pooyamkutty river has swelled beyond recognition. Perhaps nobody knows these things better in Kuttampuzha panchayat than nine-year-old Aleenamol, who lost her house to the river in spate as the torrential waters engulfed the entire north bank of the river.
The house, partially made of mud, sank to the grounds in rushing waters around 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday night. Fortunately, the family of three had seen the shape of the things to come and taken shelter on higher grounds as the flooding started, triggered by almost incessant rains since Monday.
Aleenamol forced herself to smile as a team of revenue department officials came visiting the grounds where her little house stood. She even posed for a photograph for the officials, who had come to take stock of the enormity of the damage.
She said afterwards that she was a class three student at the Kuttampuzha government school and eager to return. However, her father, K. D. Mathews, a daily wage earner said her books had been submerged in the flooding and going back to school will be an additional challenge when the school reopens after the week-long, rain-forced holidays.
Of course, building a new home is out of the question for now. He has just 10 cents of land and little work these days as the rains are unrelenting. Hopes of putting together a house hinges on help from the panchayat authorities, who appeared sympathetic and eager to help as they visited the family on Thursday.
A senior revenue department official said that thought there were some technical difficulties in compensating the family, the government was likely to take a sympathetic view under the current circumstances. He said free ration supplies had been arranged for the families in the Kuttampuzha panchayat affected by the flooding.
Meanwhile, the family has found temporary shelter in their neighbourhood. One of the neighbours offered a room in his house, a generous gesture that will ease the pain until the long-winding bureaucratic process gets the family some compensation.
Aleena and her family’s woes are typical of the people in the upper reaches of Ernakulam district, including tribesmen, during the annual rainy season.
The rains have cut off access to and communication with tribal colonies in Uriyampetty, Vellaramkuthu, Kallolimedu, Kunjippara, Thalavachapara and Kandampara where proper healthcare and education for the children are big challenges even under the best of weathers.
Kuttampuzha panchayat president C. J. Eldhose said till the end of May health camps were held regularly in these colonies but nothing has happened since the rains started early June. The only mode of transport reaching these colonies is country boats, that do not dare to venture in as the currents are too strong.
Kuttampuzha panchayat has suffered the worst of the rains this season as several houses sit dangerously perched on hillocks, the rains constantly eating away at their edges. People have little or no work. Electricity outages are common and hundreds of hectares under turmeric and cocoa are inundated.
The only bridge that links Manikandanchaal and tribal colonies on its upper reaches to the rest of Kerala was submerged on Wednesday for several hours. The bridge was clear of water on Thursday as the rains eased a little.
Saramma Joseph, president of the Community Development Society under Kudumbashree poverty eradication mission in the panchayat said children were the worst affected by the rains because even food supplies become difficult and free rations could not be accessed by the tribal people in the far off colonies.