Mukacheri fishing village is just a few minutes’ drive from Vadakara town. But it has an isolated existence, with the residents facing the fury of the sea through the year, hiding behind crumbling seawalls. A hundred odd houses line the coastline and a narrow road separates them from the few granite boulders that make up the seawall. Come monsoon and the waves crash into the pathways between the houses, sometimes taking along a few huts in its retreat.
In the past week, the violent sea forced residents from around 20 houses to leave their belongings and take shelter in the J.B. Upper Primary School nearby. The others continue to stay on, with one eye trained on the advancing sea. The waves have already taken away a large part of the coastline and parts of the ‘seawall’.
“It is only during monsoon when the sea takes away our houses that any official visits us and unload some boulders for these namesake seawalls. But all through the year, we live under the constant threat of being washed away. Waves regularly come inside our houses even during the summer,” says N. Beebi, pointing to the lines traced by the waves in the alleyways.
Blue tarpaulin sheets are a constant presence with most of the outer walls of these houses being covered by it.
“This is the only protection we can afford on our own. Also, all of us here have huge electricity bills because of the ‘earthing problem’ caused by seawater,” says Sefia, another resident.
The skeleton of a sea bridge which was abandoned midway during construction in the 1960s stand as testimony to the apathy faced by the residents of Mukacheri.
“The sea bridge was drummed up as a huge project then and some of us were evicted also. But then they left it at halfway. Those are the only few times something happened here,” says S. Moosa, an old-timer.
All of them unanimously say that none of the Government programmes aimed at improving the lives of those living along the coastline ever reaches them.
“We regularly hear about one or the other minister launching new projects in coastal villages. But till date, nothing has reached us. We wish that the fishing belt here which includes Vadakara North and South is brought under the model fishing village scheme. That will bring in enough funds to build seawalls and for improving the conditions here. Many of the fishermen here do not even have houses of their own. Including us in the Sparsham project could also be of much help,” says V. Nasser, Secretary of the Kadalora Jagratha Samithi here.
The Vadakara Municipality Chairperson P.P. Ranjini says that the situation at Mukacheri deserves urgent consideration.
“I informed the District Collector and the irrigation department regarding the situation at the coast. The fisheries department also needs to take steps on implementing the model fishing village project,” says Ms. Ranjini.
Following the sea erosions of the past week, the irrigation department took measures to strengthen the coastline by adding more boulders.
“We are now working using the emergency funds. A new sea wall needs to be constructed along the entire coastline, barring the fishing gaps. Annual proposals are submitted for the same but nothing has happened yet. It is estimated to cost around Rs. 13 crore,” says an irrigation department official on condition of anonymity.
The Vadakara MLA C.K. Nanu says that the problem is not just in Mukacheri, but all through the district.
“Sufficient amount is not being spent in Kozhikode to construct seawalls. I have requested for additional funds as part of the disaster management project of the Central Government. The sea erosion has intensified in Mukacheri and nearby areas after the harbour project at Mukkali was implemented. The living conditions of the people there is a cause of concern and we need to think about extending projects like sparsham to these areas too,” says Mr. Nanu.