KOCHI: The horrors of Cyclone Ockhi is revisiting Chellanam and the nearby coastal areas, with the roiling sea rushing into houses tossing temporary barricades aside and smashing compound walls. Two persons have sustained injuries after debris from collapsing walls fell on them.
While the people have been demanding a strong sea wall for years, nothing has materialised so far. "Water has completely submerged the houses close to the beach. Bazaar is the worst-affected area. I tried to barricade my house against the incursion of seawater. But all efforts came to nought and I was forced to shift to higher grounds with my family," said Jinson Veluthamannungal, a resident of Bazaar in Chellanam panchayat.
He said the situation on Friday was even worse. "If it rains like this and the sea keeps lashing out, many of the old houses in the Bazaar area will be destroyed," he said. Jinson couldn't rein in his anger against the government. And his is not an isolated voice.
Taking strong exception to the lackadaisical attitude of successive governments, Basil Mukkathu, a resident of Edavanakkad in Vypeen, said, "We get attention only on two occasions - when they want votes and when a calamity like this strikes. It has been staring in the government's face for quite some time. Of course, funds are sanctioned from time to time. But nobody bothers to see whether any work is taking place."
Cleetus Punnakal, a member of the Chellanam Janakeeya Vedi, said protests, dharnas, agitations and pleas have all fallen on deaf ears. "Do you know that the agitation launched by the Janakeeya Vedi is reaching 548 days? We are continuing the agitation, albeit at individual houses now because of COVID," he said.
Another problem in Chellanam is the shifting of people to camps. "Many wards in the panchayat have COVID patients. And many don’t reveal their COVID-positive status. That poses a risk while shifting them to camps," he added.
According to Basil, people in most of the coastal areas have lost all connectivity. "The Kannamaly police station has been cut off with roads getting inundated. MP Hibi Eden had come yesterday and today. The district collector too came yesterday. But what's the use when nothing can be done. They should be working towards the prevention of a repeat of this situation," he said.
NDRF team deployed in the district
KOCHI: With heavy rain lashing the district, a 28-member team from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team has been stationed in Chellanam, which is facing the threat of sea erosion.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the District Disaster Management Authority chaired by Collector S Suhas took stock of the situation. In Kochi taluk, three relief camps were opened and around 30 people were put up there. All those shifted to the camps will be subjected to the COVID test.