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Relief for tsunami-hit delayed

Anand Haridas

Boats yet to be replaced

KOCHI: There was no Vishu for the 80-odd families on Aniyil beach in Edavanakadu. Instead, they were charting out protest measures against the delay on the part of the State Government and district administration in providing the promised rehabilitation measures.

For the time being, families are put at temporary shacks and many are not going to the sea as their damaged boats are yet to be replaced. "We were given nets from the Matsyafed, but we have no boat to go to the sea," said Prakash.

By his side, Valappan nods in agreement. The latter has been staying with his 10-member family in a temporary shack. "Two boats were given to us by Advaitashramam, Kalady, and four of us use them," said Satyan, a fisherman from the locality.

The poor catch has also added to their woes. "My family survives on the earnings of my son, who is a painter. A whole day out in sea may earn Rs. 100 to 200 for two of us, who go on a single boat," he added.

Unfulfilled promises

Even though there were many promises, nothing has materialised so far, the residents complain. Different teams have visited the coast to study the loss caused by the tsunami.

The immediate concern for those trying to set up a new life along the coast is absence of a secure seawall and breakwaters against the advancing sea. "The entire coastal line of Vypeen used to have pulimuttu or breakwaters at an uniform gap of 30 metres. It has all been levelled. Also, after the promise of strengthening seawall, a single layer of stone was placed along the coast. In most places, stones displaced by waves were taken back using excavators," said Deepan.

Even the news of first set of houses for rehabilitation being handed over to the State Government does not bring joy among this lot.

They have become too sceptical about the bureaucratic manoeuvrings to react positively to the news.

A 72-cent plot was acquired for building houses, however construction could not begin as the Greater Cochin Development Authority is yet to complete soil testing. Construction of houses at two other plots has begun, but is nowhere near completion, said Mr. Deepan.

Of these, about 30 families have expressed willingness to be rehabilitated away from the beach. "But then, we cannot leave the boats here and live far away, for example in the neighbouring Kuzhipalli panchayat. During night, we push the boats up the beach," said Mr. Prakash.

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