Rehabilitation far from over

FRESH START: Houses constructed at Manivelikkadavu to rehabilitate the tsunami-affected people of Arattupuzha panchayat in Alappuzha.

FRESH START: Houses constructed at Manivelikkadavu to rehabilitate the tsunami-affected people of Arattupuzha panchayat in Alappuzha.  

A. Harikumar

Tsunami Revisi In Arattupuzha and Andhakaranazhi panchayats

ALAPPUZHA: It will be a travesty of truth to say that the State Government has not done anything to rehabilitate the tsunami-affected people of the district. But the work in Arattupuzha and Andhakaranazhi panchayats has not been completed.

Arattupuzha was the worst affected in the district, with 28 dead. Two were killed in Andhakaranazhi.

Of the houses proposed for the affected people, 726 have been completed, said Additional District Magistrate N. Chandrasekhara Pillai. Work on 112 houses is progressing. Construction of 20 has not yet begun. Work on 15 of these has not started because of problems on construction sites. The NRI Residents' Association, which promised to construct five, has backed out, he said.

The district authorities said they had distributed compensation to the kin of the dead months after the disaster.

Mr. Pillai said the Government would launch several projects for the affected people on December 26, the second anniversary of the calamity. The new welfare schemes included a monthly pension of Rs. 500 each to six widows of fishermen who were killed in the tsunami and Rs. 25,000 each to 107 Kudumbasree units in the affected panchayats. Seventeen youth clubs in the affected areas would get Rs. 50,000 each.

Camps still open

Arattupuzha panchayat vice-president Sivan Kunju said four temporary camps opened for the affected people in the village still functioned and nearly 200 people lived there. These are at Valiyazheekkal, Tharayikkadavu, Tharayikkadavu SNDP junction and Kuriyappasseri.

Mr. Kunju noted that the work on a bridge across Kayamkulam Lake, connecting the southern end of Arattupuzha with Kochiyude Jetty in the mainland, had not been completed. It started a year ago.

During its inauguration, the Government had promised to carry it out on a war footing. The bridge had been planned for easy evacuation of people in case of a catastrophe. The reasons for the delay range from failure to allot funds in time to slow acquisition of land for an approach road.

Another serious drawback is the delay in implementation of the steps needed to resist a tidal wave attack. Construction of a seawall from Perumbally junction to the southern end of the panchayat, where tidal waves caused heavy damage, remains a dream.

Though the Government had allocated Rs. 7.5 crore, the work had not begun. Local people said it was time the Government started work as the conditions were conducive now. It would be difficult to do so once sea erosion resumed by April-end.

There are complaints about the construction of houses by some of the voluntary organisations. Mr. Kunju said these had come from Manivelikkadavu. He said the panchayats expected the Government to streamline rehabilitation works and remove bottlenecks.

Local people said construction of breakwaters for the Kayamkulam fisheries harbour without strengthening the southern coast of Arattupuzha panchayat was causing repeated sea erosion. They want the panchayat to take long- term measures to prevent erosion.

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