KOCHI: Chellanam in Malayalam means ‘a place where no one goes’. With Cyclone Ockhi having wreaked havoc, claiming two lives, people in this village are slowly returning to their normal lives. Twelve days after the airy turbulence.The fear on the faces of the local residents is paving way for a sigh of relief as the construction of seawall moves ahead on a war footing. On Monday, however, a majority of the families were seen actively involved in removing the mud and sand deposited by seawater on their premises. The past several days saw the residents up in arms against the authorities, demanding the construction of a seawall to protect their lives and houses from future cyclones and high-tides.
Septage and sewage water have inundated about 1,500 homes in Chellanam, making several areas virtually uninhabitable. The toilets of many of the houses here can be used only after waste and mud from the septic tanks have been flushed out. According to the Health Department officers, a majority of the toilets in the region have been cleansed.
Volunteers, including NCC cadets, grama panchayat members, Kudumbashree workers and activists of various political parties joined hands with the local people who have got back to their homes after the relief camps opened at St Mary’s LP School and Puthanthodu GHS were closed on Sunday.
“We have had no sleep for the past many days,” said Joseph, a local resident.“Had the sea erosion happened at midnight, all of us would have lost our lives. The walls of houses were demolished after seawater gushed in.”
His neighbour, 42-year-old Rex Kaliparambil, was found dead near his inundated house at Maruvakkad on December 2. “I got some sleep after many days yesterday (Sunday). But many people asked me for assistance and I joined them disregarding the sleep,” Joseph said.The fisherman in him, though, has been left jobless after the incident. “There is a warning people shouldn’t venture into the sea for fishing. Hence, we are awaiting better weather conditions before going to the sea again,” he said. The residents are relying on the free ration provided by the government.
“The Chellanam area is returning to normalcy,” said Jervin Joseph, secretary, Janakeeya Samara Samithi.“The government had agreed to the demands of the residents and the six-day long indefinite stir was called off. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reassured this promise on Monday.” A 125-member team headed by Kumbalanghi Panchayat president Martin Antony joined the cleaning work at Chellanam on Monday. “We are from the neighbouring panchayat and it’s our duty to extend a helping hand to the people here. Panchayat members, Kudumbashree workers and CDS members, along with Congress party workers, joined the efforts on Monday,” said Martin.
NCC cadets from St Mary’s School, Chellanam, have also assisted the local residents in removing the sand and mud from residential areas. According to the Janakeeya Samara Samithi leaders, only four families - whose houses were fully damaged - could not be shifted and the accommodation for them has been provided at the hospital in Chellanam.
The Health Department officers are on their toes in completing the sanitation work, with the squad inspecting 270 houses on Monday. Bleaching powder has been used in 270 locations. Besides, five septic tanks have been cleaned. About 11 persons were diagnosed with fever, and were given basic healthcare. The squad identified about 29 septic tanks which were damaged in the region.
Meanwhile, District Collector Mohammed Y Safirulla has directed to complete the sanitation work in the Chellanam and Vypeen regions by December 15. He also instructed to submit the details of the houses damaged totally or partially in those regions.The stretch between Maruvakkad Velankanni Church and Bazaar areas, where the seawall had not been built, was the worst-affected.
sit-in at Thoppumpady
Kochi: A group of fishermen under the banner of Christian Service Society on Monday staged a sit-in protest on BOT Bridge, Thoppumpady, demanding the construction of breakwaters and seawall from Chellanam to Fort Kochi in the wake of Cyclone Ockhi. The fishermen are on a warpath demanding the construction of seawall and the distribution of adequate compensation for the affected families. Priests of the Latin Catholic Church also joined the protest. Following the stir, traffic along the stretch was disrupted for hours.