THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Who will get the new flats? At the moment, this is one question doing the rounds in Valiyathura as the fisher folk battle the unexpected summertime fury of the sea. The people want to know whether the government will allocate the 192 flats constructed for fishermen at nearby Muttathara before the onset of the southwest monsoon in June. “As a matter of right, they should be allotted to the fishermen in Valiyathura. But when the time comes, we will be pushed out and people from other places like Poonthura and Beemapally will get them,” fumes a resident.
Already, several families have been leading a pitiable existence in cramped rooms at the Government Fisheries School nearby for over five years now. They were transferred to the relief camps opened at the school when the seas turned rough several years ago. Naturally, they should get priority. But the families residing in the line of houses closest to the crumbling sea walls too are in a precarious situation. It is certain many of these houses will not survive an active monsoon season.
“You see. Three families live in this small house. What will happen if this house goes?” asks Mary, a local resident. Sandbags packed into the thin stretch of sand between the small house and lashing waves have been scattered by the waves. “The government says fishermen will be given Rs 10 lakh in damages. What’s Rs 10 lakh? A cent of land here costs Rs 5 lakh,” says Prabha, another resident.
Latin Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram M Soosa Pakiam, who visited Valiathura on Monday noon, said the Church was pressuring the government to complete the allocation of the flats before the southwest monsoon sets in. “There is utter devastation. If the government gets nothing done, we will join the people in putting pressure on authorities,” he said. Altogether, 192 flats have been constructed as a lasting solution to the question of resettling the fisher folk who face constant danger during the monsoons. Church authorities said they had submitted a list of 198 beneficiaries to the government last year.