KOCHI: Whenever a disaster strikes or some dire situation arises, most of us tend to wait for the government to rush in and take care always. But, this won’t be the case many a time. Sometimes, the people and their representatives can take things in their own hands and that’s what VD Satheesan MLA and the people of North Paravoor, his constituency, did.
The flood that ravaged the state in August 2018 and this year was something neither the people nor the government expected. The aftermath was devastating and one of the most-affected areas in the state was North Paravoor,” said Satheesan.“Even this year, around 17,000 people had to take shelter in the relief camps. Last year, the number was humongous with over 70,000 households affected and over 1,35,000 people taking refuge in camps. The entire area was cut off and we were not prepared. All was a muddle,” he added.
Even after the floodwater receded, there was no plan in place when it came to rehabilitating the displaced. The state government hadn’t even launched a need assessment. And, it is at this juncture that we came up with the Punarjani project,” he said.
According to him, the project was launched by bringing together around 300 volunteers who had worked in the rescue and relief operations and by associating with Habitat for Humanity, an international organisation, Manappattu Foundation and XIME.“We wanted a model set up for the long run,” he added. Under the project, a damage assessment study was carried out by the students of XIME. “The assessment was done for all sectors,” said the MLA. The study brought out a clear picture of the damage suffered.
“Today, we have all the necessary data which we can readily provide to those approaching us with offers of help,” he said. The Punarjini project concentrated on the education sector in the first step. “We were able to help around 9,000 students in various schools in areas in seven days,” said the MLA. The students were provided with school bags and study materials. “Under the project, uniforms were distributed to 7,000 students. Around 1,00,000 notebooks too were provided,” he added.
According to him, around 22 schools that had been affected were refurbished in six months.
“The data also helped us to provide good health service. We tied up with all the major hospitals in the district and designated each of them to look after a particular panchayat. We were even lucky to collect medicines worth Rs 1.5 crore,” he said.
Next came the housing, he said. “Disaster-proof houses spanning 441-sq ft were planned and designed under the project. We gave priority to people having family members with disabilities and women-headed families. Around 200 houses are being built at Rs 10 crore,” he said. As of now, 71 houses have been handed over to the beneficiaries. “The target is to construct 300 houses. We also helped out small and medium-sized shop owners who lost their merchandise in the flood,” he added.