Lurking pandemic forces Valiyathura residents to stay in dilapidated houses

Antony Babu’s life has been thrown into uncertainty yet again with strong waves lashing the walls of his house, two metres away from the sea.

Published: 31st July 2020 07:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st July 2020 04:06 PM   |  A+A-

The house which got damaged in the strong waves

The house which got damaged in the strong waves. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Antony Babu’s life has been thrown into uncertainty yet again with strong waves lashing the walls of his house, two metres away from the sea. Living with his seven-member family at Kochu Thopu in  Valiyathura, Antony, a fisherman, is confined to one room in their two-room house which has been partially damaged in the recent erosion. The family refuses to take shelter in the rehabilitation camp set up at Government Fisheries Technical Higher Secondary School or other camps due to the pandemic.

“It has been almost six years since we built this house with the loan provided by the Fisheries Department. Even though several houses were ruined due to sea erosion previously, ours continued to remain undamaged. However, this year, the foundation of our house was destroyed and can collapse anytime. It has been more than four months since I ventured into the sea to fish. So, I can’t even afford to rent a house this time,” said the 37-year-old.

Antony’s family comprises his father, wife, three children and his nephew. Sacks filled with sand have been used as a barrier against the waves. “Neither the ward councillors nor other official has come forward to help us due to the pandemic. We live in fear everyday,” said Antony.  In Kochu Thopu, around six houses have been completely damaged and five have suffered partial damage in the sea erosion recently. Several other houses along the coast are also under threat. 

“People in these areas have suffered a huge loss due to sea erosion. Due to the spike in Covid-19 cases, it has become difficult to help them. Many refuse to move to the camps. And, people who had lost their houses in the sea erosion three years ago are still in camps since they have not yet been given houses as promised by the authorities, “ said John Jerome, president of Congress beach mandalam committee, Valiyathura.

Some residents have shifted to their relatives’ houses. “A few years ago, my house was destroyed in a sea erosion. Recently, I had it rebuilt spending Rs 2 lakh. But, the strong waves washed away most of my house, leaving only a quarter of a room. I have six members in my family, but due to the current situation, everyone is scattered across various relatives’ houses,” said Jesmal, another resident. She added that shifting to the camp with her family which includes small children is not a good idea due to the pandemic.
 Jesmal is also worried that her daughter, Jaimy, won’t be able to continue her studies anymore as they don’t have any money left to pay her fees for college.

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