Tidal flooding gives nightmare to coastal residents in Ernakulam

Local bodies gear up to open relief camps for affected families

December 14, 2021 07:04 pm | Updated December 15, 2021 05:59 pm IST - Kochi

Houses in the coastal belt waterlogged in tide-induced water ingress. Houses flooded after spring tide lead to ingress of water at the coastal Nayarambalam. 

Houses in the coastal belt waterlogged in tide-induced water ingress. Houses flooded after spring tide lead to ingress of water at the coastal Nayarambalam. 

The spring tide-induced waterlogging has turned life a nightmare for large sections of the population in the coastal panchayats in the district with water surging inside homes.

The situation is set to worsen further with the high tide to be at its most intense between December 18 and 24 under the impact of full moon.

“We have been literally wading through water since the start of this month. Usually, water don’t enter our house but this time it has been happening at least twice a day. It seems like this has been the worst in the last decade,” said Supri Kattuparambil, a social worker residing in Nayarambalam.

So worse is the situation that some coastal panchayats are gearing up to open camps for the affected people. “We are about to open a camp since people in waterlogged households have been complaining about not even able to cook food. We may open more camps if needed,” said T.T. Francis, Njarakkal panchayat president.

Shrimp farmers are among the worst affected lot. “Shrimp farming needs high saline water intrusion for attracting shrimp seedlings but that hasn’t happened this time probably because of the release of water from dams. The seedlings dropped in the farms have also got washed away after the breach of bunds between farms owing to the high water level. The situation seems to be getting worse with each passing year,” said Vakkama George, a shrimp farmer of nearly three decades’ standing from Edavanakkad.

Mary Shilpa, District Agriculture Officer, said the high tide-induced water intrusion has taken its toll on farming in coastal panchayats. “But we haven’t received reports of widespread crop loss calling for intervention yet,” she said.

Mitigation programme

Unlike the popular perception, the worsening tidal flooding is not because of the release of water from dams but is the domino effect of spring tide coupled with the ever-increasing sea level, said C.G. Madhusoodhanan, CEO of Equinoct, a community-sourced modelling solution provider initiated by IIT Bombay and NIT-Calicut alumnus. In a first of its kind initiative, a community-driven tidal flooding mitigation programme is under way in the coastal panchayat of Puthenvelikkara under the joint aegis of Equinoct and Community Resource Centre, Puthenvelikkara.

“Tidal flooding between December and March is getting progressively worse and calls for scientific studies and intervention. It has set in earlier than the usual period of the second half of December. The impact of tidal flooding could be more severe during the full moon period between December 18 and 24. While usually its impact lasts for about three hours, it could prolong even more in low-lying areas,” said Mr. Madhusoodhanan.

He said that people affected by tidal flooding is eligible for compensation just like the victims of normal flooding.

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