Kerala

Karinchola feels overlooked

It was the first disaster, where 14 died in a landslip, in the monsoon devastation

A sliver of the brick foundation is all that remains. The semi-modern house and 12 cents of land on which it stood at the navel of the tall Karinchola hill is gone. Eight human beings who had gone to sleep the previous night in the house are no more.

In a sudden hail of gigantic rocks, rainwater, and huge trees at pre-dawn on June 14, Mohammed Rafi lost in a flash eight lives closest to his heart: his mother and father, his 24-year-old wife and three-year-old daughter, two sisters, and their two daughters. His mother's body emerged from under the rocks and debris on the fourth day after he had arrived from Saudi Arabia, where he had been working as a store hand.

“The Karinchola landslip took everyone and everything I had,” Mr. Rafi, 30, a former lorry driver, told The Hindu in a calm, neutral voice. Left all alone, he has no idea what to do next.

In the landslip, Jamsheed lost both his parents, an elder brother and brother’s son. Saleem lost two of his daughters, and a spinal injury has kept him bedridden all these weeks. Five houses that stood on half an acre of land vanished.

It has now been ten weeks since the Karinchola landslip, which took 14 lives belonging to three households, struck the Kattippara panchayat in Kozhikode district’s upland region. Karinchola’s toll was the highest in a landslip in the State in a long time. And it was the first disaster in the recent monsoon devastation. But, the local people and the survivors are sore that it did not receive the kind of attention it deserved. Activists and the victims’ relatives complained that while government efforts and relief operations by organisations flooded other parts of the State ravaged by the monsoon, Karinchola was left out.

“Had the Chief Minister visited Karinchola, the response from the government machinery, NGOs, and the public would have been totally different,” rues Mohammed Shahim, who represents the Karinchola ward in the Kattippara panchayat council.

Initially, help from the local people poured in — in kind. But this tapered off. Several organisations had promised to build houses for those who lost homes, but nothing has materialised. The government of course paid ₹4 lakh for each of the dead and ₹1 lakh for house building. But this money cannot be used for the daily needs of the homeless people.

No help coming

“I lost my two children, lost my newly built house and I have been bedridden since the disaster,” Mr. Saleem, who had spent seven years at a Saudi Arabian cafeteria in Riyadh to build his house, said. “Several organisations had promised to help, but I have not got anything except a few thousand rupees initially. I need around ₹6,000 every time I go for a medical check-up in Kozhikode.”

Jamsheed, who also lives in a rented house, shared Saleem’s view. “Promises galore, fund-raising by others goes on, but I have not got any funding except the government compensation. Of course local people have donated in kind.”

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:13:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/karinchola-feels-overlooked/article24786696.ece

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