ALUVA: Fishermen from Vypeen wait in lorries, boats in tow, at Aluva. They are armed and ready to jump into the waters and carry out rescue operations, in case the water level in Periyar river rises dangerously in the wake of the opening of Idukki and Idamalayar dam shutters.
The fishing folk, who came to be fondly referred to as ‘Kerala’s own army’ after they daringly undertook rescue operations during the 2018 deluge in the state, have once again volunteered to help the fire force and the police launch evacuation and rescue operations if required.
“We volunteered to extend our support when the fisheries department asked us. We are always happy to help people,” said Madhu PA, 52, a fisherman from Mallipuram in Vypeen.
“We were divided into different groups and ours was directed to report at Aluva,” he said, adding the situation was unlikely to be as severe as in 2018 if the rainfall remains normal over the next two days. C K Manoharan, 48, another fishermen in the group, said they have bought five boats to Aluva.
“In 2018, we were unable to begin rescue works immediately because we weren’t prepared. Last year, however, we were the first to reach Kuthiyathode when the flood was wreaking havoc there. We rescued more than 40 people who were stranded there,” he said.
Subin A N, 41, said the group was glad that their families were supportive of their decision to volunteer for the rescue operation. “We have been told to wait here for a day. Hope things do not get worse this time,” he added.