KOCHI:The frothing, roiling sea with waves over three metres in height rushing towards the land sends a shiver down the spine of anybody who happens to be on the beach. In the case of Chellanam residents, the roar of the angry sea not only heralds the arrival of monsoon but also the impending havoc nature is going to wreak on them.
The residents of Chellanam, who had suffered the most in the district when cyclone Ockhi hit the coast, had hardly picked up the pieces of their lives when the sea again poured into their homes following the heavy rain that lashed the district in the past 24 hours.
When the day broke on Monday, a large number of people whose houses are close to the sea could be seen trying to rescue their utensils and furniture which were floating away. "We have been demanding the construction of a strong seawall, but our demands and pleas are falling on deaf ears," said Babu Kaliparambil, an activist. "This year even sandbags too haven't been placed. The sea began pouring in through the damaged wall. The residents were rushing around collecting utensils that were floating away out into the sea. It has become a common thing here."
The absence of a proper drainage system leads to flooding, said Babu. "There are no drains here and in places that do have them, silt and waste have clogged them," he added. Following the sea attack on Monday, over 200 houses have been completely flooded and rendered uninhabitable.
However, the residents have refused to shift to relief camps that the authorities offered to set up, said Fr John Kandath. "We have been demanding the construction of a seawall and breakwaters to protect the lives and properties of the residents here. But till date, nothing has been done by the government which only believes in making promises, but not in keeping them. Recently, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma inaugurated the construction work of the seawall. She said the wall be constructed within five months.
But who are they trying to fool? How can they construct a seawall when neither the tender nor the material needed for the same has been procured?" asked the priest.Also, with the monsoon setting in, it will not be possible to construct a seawall in the rain.
"The seawall can't be built within a few days or months. It will require a lot of time. Right from planning to procuring materials to actually beginning the work. At the meeting which was held after Ockhi, we had asked the authorities concerned to complete the construction of the seawall by April 30. But nothing has happened and now our houses are inundated," said Babu.
Meanwhile, the residents who have started an indefinite agitation refused the district administration's offer to shift them to relief camps. "We will be observing a coastal hartal from Chellanam to Fort Kochi," said Babu.