KOCHI: It’s been 43 years since Rajesh G, a resident of P&T Colony at Gandhi Nagar in Kochi, moved into the low-lying residential area. Ever since his childhood, Rajesh’s family has been forced to shift to temporary relief camps in each monsoon season. Like him, the ordeal is faced by 85 other families of the colony. Much to their dismay, rainwater flooded the homes again on July 29.
They have heard of several promises made by elected representatives. The latest was about the Greater Cochin Development Authority’s (GCDA) multi-crore rehabilitation project at Mundamveli. For the last two years since its foundation stone was laid by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, nothing has happened.
“Our existence and struggles are only remembered during the elections. Shifting to relief camps during monsoon has become a routine for us. No one will understand the pain of losing belongings every monsoon. We have already decided to boycott the upcoming local body elections in protest against the delay in completing the housing project. We don’t think our homes will survive till then though,” said Rajesh, who is also the president of P&T Colony Residents’ Association.
Hajira P, a bedridden patient living in the colony, was shifted to a relative’s house along with her cot. Many ailing patients were either shifted to hospitals or safer locations.
“Most of the houses are flooded with two-ft-deep water. Most of the residents are senior citizens battling several diseases. If not us, at least our younger generation should get some relief from the struggle,” said a furious Antony Joy of Udaya Colony, also at Gandhi Nagar, who has his ailing mother to take care of.
The officials cite technical issues as the reason behind the delay in the housing project. “The project was supposed to be completed by November 2019. But our project contractor, FACT-RCF Building Products Ltd (FRBL), shut down its operations due to debt repayment issues. As they told us about their inability to continue the project, we awarded the project to Thrissur District Labour Contract Society through a tender process. It forced us to start the process from scratch which led to delay,” said V Saleem, chairman, GCDA.
“We are awaiting the technical sanction from the state government, which is expected to come this month itself, and planning to resume the construction by August 15.GCDA aims to complete the project within seven months. With a revised budget of `15 crore, the project will be executed using prefab technology,” he said.
TP Canal is not part of Operation Breakthrough
Despite being one of the worst flood-hit locations in the city, Operation Breakthrough officials say TP Canal which overflowed and flooded the colonies, is not included in the project. “As TP Canal renovation is under Amrut project, we haven’t cleaned it under Operation Breakthrough. Most of the areas that were flooded on Wednesday are near the canal. The de-silted canals haven’t seen any flooding at all,” said R Baji Chandran, technical committee chairman, Operation Breakthrough.