Many of the 175 shelters abandoned being used by anti-social elements for illegal activities
With a view to providing accommodation for fishermen in coastal villages during cyclones and other calamities, the government has constructed 175 cyclone shelters in Nellore district, but many of them are in dilapidated condition due to lack of maintenance.
The two-storey shelters were constructed some two decades ago by spending some lakhs of rupees in all fishermen villages. The officials provided drinking water, electricity and other amenities in the cyclone shelters, but several of them have been abandoned and have become dens for anti-social activities now.
In Pedda Govinda Pallepalem village in Kota mandal, a group of people were seen consuming liquor and playing cards on the first floor of the building on Thursday. On seeing the camera, the gamblers escaped hiding their faces.
Interestingly, the cyclone rehabilitation shelter is located on the Government Primary School premises in the village. Locals say that the cyclone shelter was used as school building for some time a few years ago and was abandoned later.
“The cyclone shelter has become a den for gamblers, drunkards and other anti-social elements in the village. We have warned the villagers several times against using the building for illegal activities as it is located on the school premises, but the activities have been continuing. The building too is in a dilapidated condition, so we request the district officials to dismantle the structure immediately,” said a woman preferring anonymity.
“The officials will arrange cyclone mitigation programmes, preparedness meetings and gear up the staff of various departments for facing the calamities every year before the rainy season. But the government never cares to take up repair to these shelters,” says an officer.
The district officers give instructions to arrange rehabilitation shelters in schools, Anganwadi centres and other buildings for cyclone victims, though they are far away from the habitations. But, the government does not sanctioning funds for renovating cyclone shelters. Of the 175 buildings located in Kavali, Nellore and Gudur divisions, only 30 buildings are in use, says a public representative.
When contacted, Collector K. Ramgopal says it is a fact that there has been no maintenance of cyclone shelters for a few years due to paucity of finds. In some villages, the buildings have been allotted to Anganwadi workers and schools. “We will direct the officials concerned to take steps to prevent anti-social activities in the abandoned structures,” says the Collector.