KOCHI: The rivers were roaring, sweeping everything in their path. The flood brought a thundering wall of water, trapping thousands on roof tops after dozens were swept away. At the hour of crisis, when Kerala stood bewildered, they risked their lives and dared the raging waters to save the victims. They rescued around 80,000 lives and the Chief Minister heaped praises, calling them Kerala’s own naval force. But a month on, many fisher families stand reduced to penury. Reason: The damaged boats remain unrepaired despite tall promises.
As per government records, 560 boats joined the rescue operation against the publicly acknowledged number of 670. Among them, 197 boats suffered damage and 47 have been delivered after repair works.
According to the Fisheries Department, verification of the country boats that suffered damage during rescue operation is going on in Thiruvananthapuram and Malappuram districts while the repair work has started in Kollam and Ernakulam. In Ernakulam, 85 applications were received and 25 boats repaired as on Friday. In Kollam, 22 boats have been repaired.
According to union leaders, 6700 fishermen from various coastal hamlets had participated in rescue operations. It was a tough job maneuvering the boats through the flooded roads avoiding buildings and trees. Many boats got damaged after crashing against compound walls, gates and trees.
As water receded, the boats got grounded and their engines were damaged. Still they refused to accept the `3,000 reward announced by the government. However, it assured them to bear the expenses for repairing the boats. The fishers have been waiting since then, but to no avail.