Kerala

Flooding puts an island on edge

Flooded areas of Kidapparam in Munroe Thuruthu.  

The residents of Munroe Thuruthu are used to water invading their houses. While they have been facing the adverse consequences of tidal flooding for long, the erratic and intense rainfall too has added to their woes.

Though nearly 100 families from the ecologically fragile island are badly in need of rehabilitation, the authorities are yet to formulate a feasible plan. While many parts including areas of Kidapparam and Pattamthuruthu are unfit for habitation, the residents are left with no other options.

According to officials, around 40% of the island technically falls into CRZ-IB zone, making it a very vulnerable. At present torrential rains and tidal flooding are having a very devastating effect on the lives of the islanders.

“We have been enduring this ordeal for years and now the condition has deteriorated further. Since attached toilets won't work during high tide, most families depend on bio-toilets erected above water level outside houses. We have to wade through waist-deep water to reach the toilet and it's a very nasty experience,” says a resident.

Construction of elevated structures was proposed as a solution in the early years when flooding was not very frequent. In the beginning it was limited to a couple of months and over the years steady subsidence of the land and structures has made the situation worse. Since some wards in the island have an equal share of land not prone to flooding, there were plans to rehabilitate the affected families. But the floods of 2018 brought everything to a standstill and though many infrastructure development projects took off later, the proposal remained on the back burner.

“At present even a moderate rain will cause severe waterlogging and last year it continued for seven-eight months. Rehabilitating the families to higher areas is the only solution and for that we should identify safe places that are located nearby. There was a plan to rehabilitate the worst-hit families in 2018, but it wasn't pursued due to back-to-back floods and COVID-19,” says former panchayat president Binu Karunakaran.

He adds that ensuring a livelihood is very important while planning such projects. Agriculture is not a profitable option any more due to change in salinity levels and tourism, the only hope for the islanders, has just started looking up after a long lull.

Tourism

“We must go for a tourism-based rehabilitation as the residents don’t have much choices,” he adds.


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 9:56:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/flooding-puts-an-island-on-edge/article37154359.ece

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