One year on, Kannamaly residents still await seawall construction

Around 25 houses in Kannamaly North are currently in danger of being taken by the sea
The destroyed seawall at Kannamaly.(Photo | Express)

KOCHI: In the past, what buoyed the residents of Kannamaly, a strip of coastline in Kochi that faces the full brunt of nature’s fury every monsoon, were the promises of their elected leaders. Promises to build a sea wall and safeguard their homes and livelihoods from the relentless, prying arms of a violent sea.

June 9 will mark the anniversary of this unkept promise. Now, as another monsoon approaches, several homes in the region are facing imminent destruction. “It seems that for the government, everything was settled once a 7.5km stretch of the sea wall was commissioned. But what about the poor fisherfolk who live north of the Chellanam sea wall?” said 55-year-old Joice Babu, a resident.

She also pointed out that the geo-bags placed on the coast by the officials are in tatters. “They don’t stand a chance against the strong waves whipped up by the monsoon winds,” she added.

V.T. Sebastian, a member of the Chellanam Janakeeya Vedhi (CJV), said that there was no sea wall to speak of in these areas. “The stone wall has sunk and in some places, been entirely displaced by the waves, leaving the coast unprotected.”

It was on June 9, 2023, that Minister for Water Resources Roshy Augustine visited Putthenthodu in Kannamaly to assess the sea wall work on the Chellanam coast. “He assured us then that the Rs 320 crore required to build a sea wall up to CMS bridge will be approved soon.

Later, on November 1, 2023, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the project’s second phase when he came to commission the Chellanam sea wall and Minister P Rajeeve, who accompanied him, reiterated the promise that funds would be released soon.

That’s it. Then, nothing. None of the people’s representatives have come here since,” said Sebastian. It is noteworthy that the panchayat president is also a ward member of Kannamaly North. “For these poor fisherfolk, building another house is a distant dream,” Sebastian added.

Around 25 houses in Kannamaly North are currently in danger of being taken by the sea.

“In 2022, during a low-pressure event, the sea destroyed 10 houses. Now, it is our turn. Several families are separated because of this,” said Joice, who has moved in with her relatives, while her sons have shifted to her in-laws’ place nearby.

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The New Indian Express