Today's Paper

Land for houses acquired against all odds in Kanyakumari district

S. Sundar

500 families are still living in temporary shelters in Nagercoil district

Getting land for building houses was difficult: Paliwal3,900 families moved to their own houses

NAGERCOIL: Two long years have passed since the tsunami devoured 801 lives in Kanyakumari district. Five hundred families are still living in temporary shelters under trying conditions.

The available poromboke land was either assigned or encroached upon. "People here do not sell their land. They only buy more. I myself had to negotiate for 100 hours to get it. At last, we bought 85 acres at a cost of Rs. 6 crore from 123 persons," Collector Sunil Paliwal said.

The officials stumbled upon a saltpan on a poromboke land at Colachel.

But, it took nine months for filling up the low-lying area, conforming to the technical guidelines.

In Kodimunai, over 1,000 truckloads of debris had to be removed from a rocky area to level the land.

However, entrusting the construction work to non-government organisations expedited the process. "When it came to government-funding, lot of restrictions came our way," a senior officer said.

The first batch of houses was ready in September 2005.

The local bodies took care of providing basic infrastructure such as water supply and drainage.

"By January 2007, all the affected people will be accommodated in permanent structures," Mr. Paliwal said.

Only 500 new houses are built on fishermen's land on the coast. The remaining 2,100 are 200 metres away from the sea.

The administration decided to move 825 houses along the western coast (not affected by tsunami) from within 40 metres from the sea to a safer distance.

Difficult to reach the sea

However, fishermen displaced to a rocky area, 2.5 km away from the coast at Muttom, find it difficult to reach the sea.

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