MALAPPURAM: As flooding of low-lying areas becomes more regular in Kerala, the trend of purchasing boats and canoes for individual use is catching on. People in Vazhakkad panchayat — most areas of which are located along the banks of river Chaliyar — in Malappuram district seem to have adopted the precautionary measure rather earnestly. According to the local body members, individuals and organisations in the area have purchased more than 30 boats or canoes in anticipation of floods in August.
Abdul Salam, a Vazhakkad resident, bought a lifeboat worth Rs 45,000 after having suffered enough during the past two seasons. The lifeboat I purchased is of a high quality as it was used in a ship. Six people in my family can easily escape from the area if water enters our house,” Salam told TNIE. He has also designed a motor using a grass-cutting machine to run the lifeboat.“I replaced the blade at one end of the machine with a small fan to convert it into a motor. I spent an additional Rs 12,000 to purchase the grass-cutting machine,” he said.Salam expects flood this year too as the weather experts have forecast heavy rain from Monday.
Lessons learnt from the ‘nightmare’
“In 2018 and 2019, we faced floods as my house is located near a paddy field and the Chaliyar river. If it rains heavily, our area will definitely get flooded. Last year, I had to vacate my house with six family members at midnight. It was a nightmarish experience. Though I was prepared to vacate the house next morning, flood water rose alarmingly that night,” he said.
At least 10 families in his neighbourhood have purchased boats expecting the worst, Salam said.Meanwhile, Vazhakkad panchayat vice-president Jaisal Elamaram said people purchase second-hand boats and canoes from coastal areas like Beypore in Kozhikode.“People spend around Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 to purchase a boat. Some people had it made locally,” Jaisal said. All local bodies, he said, have been ordered by the state government to purchase flood-survival machinery like boats and life-jackets. “The panchayat will soon purchase three steel boats suitable for flood-related rescue operations,” he added.