KOCHI: Devi Vilasam UP School, Nayarambalam, is among the many shelter camps opened since December 1 after the massive destruction caused by Cyclone Ockhi. Though Ockhi has relinquished the Kerala coast, the Nayarambalam natives are yet to recover from the shock of counting their losses - both physical and financial. Around 450 families are sheltered in the camps. With the camps being disbanded, the families remain helpless with no place to move in. “This is the fifth time that I and my family are being evacuated because of a natural disaster," says Ambrose Mavungassery (40), a fisherman who stayed in the camp along with wife Sophia and their two sons.
"The episode repeats but the condition remains the same. We are neglected by the authorities. I wonder if it is because of the fact we are uneducated or because we are considered as mere voting machines during elections.” Ambrose lost everything he had to the cyclone. His family had been living in the destroyed house for the past 60 years. His face reflects faded hope and helplessness.
Betty Thevarakattu, a 62-year-old differently-abled woman, gazes on to the school building saying, “We move to the shelter homes when the sea engulfs our land and return home when it goes back.” For most of the families, this has become a repeating episode while the officers console them with temporary solutions. The story of Vijayakumari Chirattapurakal, a widow aged 57, is no different. She had to help her daughter and her grandsons, including a 21-day-old infant, to escape the wrath of the sea at night. People like her show despair at being uprooted from their ancestral property.
Thalathil Sunil Kumar (49), a native fisherman, says “Vypeen is a land established by the sea. The coastal belt spans around 550 km which is mostly inhabited by the poor fisherman community. Our communities are free from any kind of anti-national activities or terrorism, yet we fail in claiming our worth as citizens in the eyes of the authorities.” They plead for the mercy of the authorities as their lives are in their hands.
According to Anil Kumar, a local ward member, taking into consideration the needs of the natives, the authorities have put forth a package at the all-party meeting, and have forwarded them to the government. “The first package includes relocating 13 members of the five houses. Later, the other 37 partially damaged houses will be taken care of,” he says.
He says, “As the representative of my people, I prioritise helping them in need. Thus, the other five families who lost their houses completely will be provided with the necessary help immediately.”
The upcoming monsoon poses a threat to the people near the coastline. People have been demanding proper seawalls and breakwaters since the past natural disasters. They seem hopeless about houses being provided to them on rent as the rough weather would forbid them from earning and thus paying for their livelihood.
As the camp is dismissed, six families which completely lost their homes, remain at Devi Vilasam School.
With a turbulent mind, they live surrendered before the waves which are both the creator and destructor of of their fortunes.
Navy locates 21 boats, 180 fishermen
Kochi :Continuing the search and operations to locate and rescue fishermen stranded at sea, the Navy on Friday located 21 fishing boats and 180 fishermen at 'Bassas de Pedro', a traditional fishing area off Lakshadweep islands. It was Navy's maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I that spotted the boats. INS Kalpeni, with six fishermen embarked from Kochi, subsequently continued its guided search for missing fishermen off Bitra and Androth islands. On Friday, the Navy extended the search area up to Maldives based on inputs some Indian fishermen could be stranded there. It was confirmed that no Indian fishermen were stranded in the area.