Government claims to have fulfilled most of its promises

Almost nine months after floods killed eight persons and affected scores of lives in Pulloorampara-Anakkampoyil landslip, there seems to be no love lost between the victims and the government.

While 17 displaced families continue to live in a relief camp as refugees in their own neighbourhood, political leaders and bureaucrats claim the local protests are “politically motivated” and the government has already fulfilled “90 per cent” of its promises to the displaced in the region.

At Mavinchuvadu, a notice by the Urulpottal Dhurithabhadithar Janakiya Action Committee put up on a coconut palm near the boulder-strewn path carved by flood waters on August 6, 2012, employs satire to express protest:

“A helicopter service will start from Anakkampoyil to Thiruvambady before the coming monsoon.

The inauguration of repaired roads and culverts completed through the intervention of both ruling and opposition parties will be held on April Fools Day.

“Residents find your own safe dwellings, only we can help ourselves.

“You may laugh reading our notice, but we live in fear. I still remember the roar of the water, dragging boulders and fallen trees down the hill. Nine months have passed, the government has not done anything to make us feel safe this monsoon. Two heavy rains are enough to start it all over again,” said K.C. Chacko, an action committee member who escaped death by a whisker on that fateful day.

Mr. Chacko watches tourists stop their car and get out to walk along the canyon caused by the landslip outside his house, taking photographs.

He says, in a way, Mavinchuvadu, which bore the brunt of the landslip and filled television visuals last year, has “developed” into a disaster tourism spot.

“Yonder, my neighbour was Sumathikutty Amma. They ran out the day of the landslip, never came back. There are so many like them in this area. Abandoned houses… ghost houses. A part of our community disappeared that day,” Janu Chekku, a resident of Kodakkattupara, said.

Visit

A visit to one of such houses showed walls splattered with dried mud, schoolbags, children’s umbrellas, family photographs — framed and broken, and a clock which stopped at 6 p.m. — almost the time when the debris-laden waters hit the house.

But C. Moyin Kutty, Thirvambady MLA, differs with the residents’ version.

“The government has fulfilled almost all its promises. This was a natural tragedy and the government has done its best so far. Over Rs. 2 crore has been allotted for renovating the Anakkampoyil-Pulloorampara Road. The protests seem to be politically motivated,” he said.

At the Thiruvambady main bus stand, a flex board highlights news reports detailing the visits made by the top political and bureaucratic leadership of the State immediately after the tragedy. It also lists promises made by leaders to displaced families.

But eight kilometres further up at the relief camp, Jancy Baiju recounts how she survived the landslip with her seven-year-old daughter, Blessey.

“I ran out with her and forgot to take a piece of cloth to cover her head. Blessey never woke up, she slept through everything. If she had woken up, she would never have recovered from the shock,” Ms. Jancy said.

Six months

The relief camp, built by Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society Ltd, was only meant for six months. However, the lease has been recently renewed for an indefinite period.

Originally, there were 24 families in the camp. Seven had left, tired of the waiting. For functions like a wedding, the family concerned move out of the camp and rent a house.

“We have already identified about 60 cents’ land in Pulloorampara to be divided among the 24 displaced families,” Eliamma George, Thiruvambady panchayat president, said.

Though she concedes that the relief camp was only meant for six months, she said “technicalities” has caused some delay.

“The Cabinet has permitted Rs. 55 lakh to the panchayat and the Revenue Department for purchasing land for the displaced families. The panchayat has identified the land. We will now take steps for a negotiable purchase. Besides, the families have already been given Rs. 1 lakh from a total compensation of Rs.3.5 lakh promised to them. Further, we are considering 130 applications we received from those willing to sell to the government their land extending up to 1 acre destroyed by the landslip. So far, we have finished 90 per cent of the relief work,” Kozhikode District Collector K.V. Mohan Kumar said.