The Fisheries Department’s Community Resource Centre near Vellayil has been lying unoccupied since its inauguration in February 2011

The Fisheries Department’s Community Resource Centre, a two-storey building spread out over 25 cents near the Vellayil coast, stands as a symbol of the delay that has crippled the tsunami rehabilitation efforts in the region.

The centre, built using tsunami rehabilitation funds, has been lying unoccupied since its inauguration in February 2011. This at a time when fisherwomen’s self-help groups under the Society for Assistance of Fisherwomen (SAF) of the department are working out of rented buildings which are eating into their meagre profit.

S. Nisha of the Sthreeshakthi SAF group on Kamburam beach, one of the groups with reasonable profit, says a permanent facility can save them from the advance amount and monthly rents.

“Our group of four has been working out of a rented shed ever since we started four years back. In the beginning, we were supplying only snacks. Then sensing the demand we shifted to meals and now we are making a steady profit. But these recurring rent payments are a problem in the lean season. Now, we have the extra problem of litigation with the owner,” says Ms. Nisha.

The situation is similar in the case of a number of other units which run tailoring shops, flour mills, and soda-making units.

“Fresh proposals have been given now from the groups to accommodate them at the Community Resource Centre. Since we only have limited number of rooms, the units will be selected according to various factors, including their performance and economic situation. They are being graded according from A to D and mostly diverse groups coming under A will be accommodated. There has been a delay in deciding on whom to be accommodated at the centre,” says M. Rajan, Assistant Nodal Officer of SAF.

When contacted by The Hindu, C. Ahmed Kutty, Deputy Director of the Fisheries Department, said the delay had been mainly due to the “waiting period for the guidelines from the government”.

“We got the guidelines on the kind of groups or individuals which can be accommodated only on April 26. It clearly says that only those self-help groups formed under the Tsunami Emergency Assistance Project (TEAP), Tsunami Rehabilitation Project (TRP), Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) and the SAF units be given accommodation. The chart to grade these units was received only last week. Now, we have started taking necessary steps to select the groups,” says Mr. Ahmed Kutty.

There have been demands from the local population to accommodate at the centre a local Maveli store, destroyed in strong winds recently.

Mayor A.K. Premajam, who is part of the monitoring committee of the centre, said she was yet to receive any communication regarding the guidelines. “I came to know that I am part of the committee only recently. But when I contacted Fisheries Department officials, they said they were yet to get the guidelines,” Ms. Premajam said.

Meanwhile, more SAF groups are set to be activated in the coming months. A three-day residential training programme of a new batch of 40 women is on at the Youth Hostel.

“We train new groups every year but at the same time keep constantly in touch with the old ones to see how they are progressing. Right now, a space of their own free from rent is a problem,” says K. Saritha, project coordinator of the SAF groups.

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