MANGALURU: Ahmed Bawa is sitting on the terrace of his single-room house at Hilariyanagara near Ullal, looking at the earthmover working to repair rubble mounted sea wall that was damaged three days ago due to sea erosion which started with the onset of monsoon. The walls of his tiny house shake every time a mighty wave hits against the wall. “I am used to it. Most of my neighbours have lost their houses. Not sure when mine will be swallowed by the waves,” he sighs in desperation.
Residents living along the coastline in Ullal share Bawa’s fear. Come June, huge waves return to erode the delicate coastline, swallowing one house after another. Yashodha, a homemaker, said, “I do not know what will happen once monsoon intensifies. Last year, they asked us to vacate the coast and take shelter in community halls, but we stayed put because the wall withstood the battering.” On Monday, several areas witnessed strong waves and the sea wall was breached in places like Mukkachery and Hilariyanagara. On Tuesday, the waves remained dangerously rough as they continued battering the coastline.
When asked if they are scared for their lives, Sherif, another resident, gives a wry smile. “We are terribly scared, but what are the alternative arrangements? The government gives us `3,000 to `5,000 as compensation and evacuates us when the situation turns bad. Where can we go leaving all our belongings?” he asked.
Several elderly people recalled seeing the coastline about a kilometre away when they were young. In the last three years, sea erosion has eaten away the beach and has reached their backyards. “When I moved here 30 years ago, we had to walk for a long distance to reach the sea. With a lot of construction along the seashore and faulty methods to fight sea erosion, the situation has worsened in three decades. The situation will only worsen as years pass by,” said Abdul Aziz, a Kaiko resident.
District Minister U T Khader said temporary measures have been initiated to address the sea erosion while the state government has already sanctioned works for permanent relief. “If the situation turns worse, the Deputy Commissioner will take the decision to evacuate residents from the affected areas,” he added.