ALAPPUZHA: After the decades-long ordeal faced by the people of Kuttanad due to floods, a change in the construction style of houses has become the need of the hour. Every year, people in the region have been forced out of their homes due to rising water levels. This annual ritual will soon become passe as new generation builders are now focussing on elevated houses to manage the flood situation.
In many parts of Kuttanad, elevated structures have become a common sight. While the basement is used to store home equipment, the upper portion is used as the residence. This style of construction has been adopted in many areas of the world, including the Northeastern states of India, where floods are a recurring phenomenon.
The state government is also preparing a plan to construct government offices and institutions as elevated structures. All educational institutions and government hospitals in the region are under water for the past 22 days. After the situation created grave concerns, the government is thinking about a change in the construction method.
In a review meeting of the flood situation of Kuttanad on Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government will construct multipurpose elevated buildings in various places of Kuttanad to shift people from flood-hit areas at the time of emergencies. “To end the misery of people in the flood season, elevated buildings are a necessity. A change in construction style is needed. If there is a necessity of law amendment to adopt the new method, the Assembly will forward a law to enforce the construction method,” Pinarayi said.
As many as 30,000 houses are situated in the 14 villages of Kuttanad taluk, of which about 90 per cent have been submerged in this year’s flood. Vinod B K, panchayat member of Kainakari, said many people have started to follow the new construction method. “In my ward, more than 10 people have constructed elevated houses. The pillars are constructed at a height of around 6 to 7 feet and the first floor is above that. In the summer season, they use the basement area for parking vehicles or storing home equipment. In the present flood situation, these type of houses become a relief. Many people are staying in these elevated houses as refugees,” Vinod said.
The expenditure is higher than normal construction. So only the wealthy can afford it. Anilappan, Kuthavarachira, Kuttamangalam, who constructed an elevated house a few months ago, said this type of construction incurs about 25 to 30 per cent more than the normal construction cost. “The construction cost is high because all the raw materials are to be shipped from the mainland. Granite, sand, cement, iron and all other materials are transported using country boats. The construction of the pillars creates the additional expenditure,” he said.
Karthikeyan, a native of Kuppapuram, said, “The new style of construction is safer, but most of the people are poor farmers or fishermen. So, they cannot afford the high construction cost. The government is allotting R4 lakh to the people whose houses were destroyed in the flood. This is not enough to even construct the foundation of a house,” he said.
“The government declared the compensation amount is based on a general parameter. But the construction cost of houses in the backwater areas and coastal areas are different from that of the mainland. So, the government should reconsider the relief amount for house construction in Kuttanad,” he said.
As many as 30,000 houses are situated in the 14 villages of Kuttanad taluk, of which about 90 per cent have been submerged in this year’s floods
CM Pinarayi Vijayan said the government will construct multipurpose elevated buildings in Kuttanad to shift people from flood-hit areas