The perennial nightmare of huge tidal waves crashing into houses on the coasts appears to be back, and this time, a tad too early.
Sea erosion, along with tidal wave attacks, which usually trouble the coastline and its residents when the monsoon is in full force, has been hitting the coast over the past couple of weeks. Alleging that complaints to authorities have brought forth little respite, the residents said the situation was severe in areas including Beemapally, Valiyathura, and Poonthura, apart from Chirayankeezhu and adjoining areas. However, authorities, including District Collector K.N. Satheesh, asserted that the situation was not yet as severe as “it was made out to be.”
“There is an incidence of tidal wave attacks, but not many residents have been affected. In fact, a very recent survey by the Disaster Management Authority said there was only one house that stood the danger of being damaged as of now. There have been road blockades and protests at different quarters, attempting to disturb the law and order situation. We will not allow that,” Mr. Satheesh told The Hindu, adding that the district administration was prepared in case the situation worsened.
“All arrangements to evacuate families to disaster shelters and safe areas are in place,” he said, pointing out that the administration had made the arrangements as part of the regular monsoon preparedness measures. Lights, ropes, rubber dinghies, and boats were made available with the Revenue, Police, and the Fire and Rescue Services personnel, who were on constant vigil. A round-the-clock control room was already functioning at the District Collectorate.
T. Peter, State president of the Kerala Swathantra Matsyathozhilali Federation, said the situation, however, was worsening by the day, with around 200 families on the Valiyathura coast living in “constant fear.”
“There has been no permanent solution to this nightmare. Dropping stones in the sea in the name of sea walls won't work if no proper breakwater structures are set up. And sea walls are not the solution. Rehabilitation of families from at least two rows of houses nearest to the coast is the way out,” he said.
Robert Panipilla, of Coastal Watch, a non-governmental organisation that focuses on the Thiruvananthapuram coastal belt, feels the same.
“The trouble has started slightly early this year, unlike earlier when sea erosion and related sufferings were reported when the monsoon had gained strength. Proposals to rehabilitate people from the first two rows of houses on the coast have been pending with the authorities for several years,” he said.