Slow progress in post-tsunami rehabilitation programme

View of partially constructed Tsunami House in Nagapattinam District on Wednesday. File photo

View of partially constructed Tsunami House in Nagapattinam District on Wednesday. File photo  

With delays in finding alternative land for housing and convincing fisherfolk to move from their original inhabitations, the post-tsunami recovery programme in Tamil Nadu has moved slowly towards its goal of “building back better.”

With a sum of Rs.4,400 crore available in the State for relief and rehabilitation efforts, funds have not been a problem. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank together pooled in at least Rs. 2,700 crore for reconstruction and livelihood restoration works in Tamil Nadu alone. Funds also came in from the Centre, , Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Officially, about Rs. 2,300 crore has been spent already.

With official statistics pegging the cumulative losses in the State at several thousands of crores, all that financial assistance had a definite role to play. In the tsunami that swept the Indian subcontinent in 2004, 7997 persons died and 846 persons were stated to be missing. A total of 1,18,580 houses were damaged in 13 coastal districts in Tamil Nadu. Over 8,700 hectares of crop area were damaged and thousands of boats were destroyed, taking away the livelihood of people in the affected villages.

Given this scenario, the task was formidable for the government and relief agencies. Construction of houses was the single largest task, with over 53,000 houses scheduled to be built in the first phase. Of this, 40,454 have been completed, including those 30,000 odd houses constructed by NGOs, according to the official statistics. In the second phase, a total of 41,723 houses are to be constructed, including alternative housing for those in vulnerable areas. About 5000 houses have been completed.

Disaster-proof homes

As part of the second phase, a key aspect, according to official sources, is to build disaster-proof homes for about 17,000 persons in the coastal districts living within the coastal regulation zone. Each house will be built at a cost of Rs. 3.25 lakh and the process of enumeration has already begun.

With World Bank funds amounting to Rs. 197 crore, disaster evacuation shelters and concretised elevated evacuation routes are to be built along the vulnerable coastal districts. The agreement for this was signed only a few months ago and assessment will be initiated soon.

Almost the entire Rs. 600 crore contributed by the ADB was used for livelihood rehabilitation and related infrastructure development activities. NGOs contributed initially to supplying boats and fishing nets, building landing bays, ice houses, and setting up alternative livelihood options through self-help groups. In its assessment released recently, World Vision has stated that livelihood security in India and Thailand had recovered to a level near to or what it was prior to the tsunami.

Also, a sum of Rs. 261 crore was channelised towards supporting the education of children in the tsunami hit areas, the money coming from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. About 1.30 lakh students are given a monthly stipend of Rs. 300 every month in order to help them continue with their studies. Heading towards the sixth year since the disaster, Tamil Nadu hopes to complete the targets on hand; primarily expedite construction and hand over houses to the people; building disaster-proof evacuation systems; establish early warning systems; and also gear itself up to limit damage to lives and livelihood during times of natural disasters, officials said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:37:24 PM |

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