Kochi

Plan to reopen schools leaves these two Chellanam families worried

The reopening of schools will force the two families which have taken shelter at St. Mary’s School in Chellanam, to vacate.   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

While most of the State is looking forward to the reopening of schools after a long break following the pandemic outbreak, two families that have taken refuge at the St. Mary’s School in Chellanam are anxious about losing their temporary residence.

The families have been sheltered in classrooms after their houses were damaged seriously following sea incursion and flooding about four months ago.

The reopening of schools will force them to vacate their present shelter. “We are not in a position to rebuild our home,” said K.A. Joseph alias Biju, who has a six-member family, including his parents, living at the school. He said the place where his house had been located was lost to sea incursion and it would not be possible to rebuild a home there.

Another family that has taken shelter at the school is that of Thankamma Machingal, who lives with her husband and son. She said she had built her home close to the seashore about four decades ago and had been living in fear ever since. Heavy rains and bad weather resulted in the house being flooded and badly damaged four months ago. It could not be rebuilt, said Ms. Machingal.

Both the families hail from the Bazaar area in Chellanam panchayat, where sea erosion is serious and seawalls have been damaged because of high tidal waves and periodic cyclonic storms. They have registered for the Punargeham project of the State government, which intents to rehabilitate families living within 50 metres of the seashore. But there is no immediate hope for the families to be rehabilitated.

However, Hibi Eden, MP, said on Saturday that a private trust had come forward to support the families by providing money for rented homes. He said one of the families had found a rented home at Kumbalanghi and the other family was in the process of finding one. The private trust would support the families for a year to meet their rental expenses.

Mr. Eden said though there were efforts to build homes for the families, heavy rains during the last couple of months had resulted in the project not taking off.

The first of the twelve houses in Ernakulam district built under the Punargeham programme was handed over to the house owners early this month. The Punargeham project is supported by an allocation of ₹1,398 crore from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund and ₹1,052 crore from the State government.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 9:19:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/plan-to-reopen-schools-leaves-these-two-chellanam-families-worried/article36672637.ece

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