The district administration has promised what it called a comprehensive package for Chellanam panchayat to prevent sea erosion and for the speedy rehabilitation of people in the wake of a trail of destruction left by Cyclone Ockhi.
The decision was taken after K.J. Maxi, MLA; District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla, and other officials met the people of Chellanam on Thursday. The residents had launched a relay hunger strike demanding the construction of a seawall and their speedy rehabilitation.
The administration promised to build a seawall and breakwaters and lay coir geotextiles to prevent sea erosion. Officials also promised speedy repair of houses damaged in the cyclone, decongestion of storm water drains, and repair of roads. However, Chellanam Janakiya Samiti, which is leading the relay hunger strike by those displaced by the cyclone and temporarily sheltered at St. Mary’s School, said it would intensify the stir to press for the speedy resolution of their issues.
Samiti convenor Jerwin Joseph claimed that the meeting had failed to bring about a positive result even as officials said it would take up to three months to finalise the plan to construct seawall. Mr. Joseph said that the hunger strike would continue and added that around 70 people, including church volunteers, would join the strike on Friday, he said.
The protesters said they were willing to call of the agitation provided the damaged wall was reconstructed. People are not willing to take official promises at face value considering past experiences, he added.
Meanwhile, a communication from the district administration said people’s opinion would be sought before finalising the package.
It added that the formalities before the construction of the sea wall would be completed in three months.
The plan was submitted to the government on December 5.
Engineers from the Irrigation Department will visit Chellanam on Friday and Saturday. Immediate steps will be taken to rebuild the seawall at Bazaar, Velankanni, Alumkavu, Vachakkal, Puthenthode, Maruvakkad, Uppathikkad, Puthenthodu, Companyppady, and Kandakkadavu.
Earlier, participants at the meeting said a 17-km seawall on the lines of the one in Fort Kochi near Dronacharya was required at Chellanam.
The work on the Chellanam harbour too should be be completed along with the sea wall project, they said.
The district administration is in the process of determining those who would benefit from the financial package announced by the State government. Government agencies and volunteers cleared houses of debris on Thursday. Chellanam panchayat vice-president K.D. Prasad said around 10 houses were cleaned up on Thursday by volunteers, who included students of the Ernakulam Law College as well as St. Teresa’s College.
A total of 25 toilets were repaired by Thursday. Personnel of the District Nirmithi Kendra are involved in the work. As many as eight tankers were pressed into service to remove septage from tanks that were damaged in the cyclone.
A communication from the district administration said cleaning up initiative faced hurdles as the toilets that were damaged had not been built scientifically. The new toilets being built will be of the proper model, the communication said.