For the people in the coastal village of Chellanam in Kochi, the coming days are going to be sleepless nights with severe erosion and high waves lashing the shores. Despite their frequent demands, the authorities are alleged to have failed in strengthening the existing sea wall and also in completing the new one.
They allege apathy on the part of the officials in building the sea wall had worsened their lives with the sea washing away their homes and all belongings.
In the last two days, about 500 homes were damaged and sea water had crossed about 600 metres to the land. Despite the grim situation in the coastal hamlet, the people in the region are not willing to shift to relief camps as a protest against the delay in constructing the sea wall.
Taking into account the grim situation in the coastal region, the Kochi Theera Samrakshana Samithi that is spearheading the agitation for construction of the sea wall has demanded laying down geo bags at places where the beach has been breached. This demand of the Samithi was agreed upon at a meeting called by the district collector on June 12. The irrigation department has been asked to complete the works within two days.
Samithi convenor T A Dalfine said that cleaning the debris and black sand from the houses should be done at the expense of the government. Moreover, he also demanded that the people whose houses have become uninhabitable should be provided a proper place to live till the houses are repaired. He said that all these demands were put forth before the district administration.
Apart from this, the Samithi also demanded a vigilance probe into the delay on the part of the officials in constructing the sea wall.
Stating that the situation was grim in Chellanam, Babu, an active worker of the Kochi Theera Samrakshana Samithi said that the t5he people are living in fear and are in much distress once the rains start.
“About three years ago, a sea wall near Velankanni Matha Centre collapsed. In the last three years, the sea has eroded about 600 metres and this could have been arrested if the sea wall had been rebuilt. However, the authorities had ignored the demands of the people here and the situation has only worsened,” he said.
“No one is able to go to work and the children are also not able to go to school. Once rains start pouring, the people are really worried,” he said.
The political parties in Chellanam are alleged to be showing no interest in the issue. They are alleged to be not pressuring the authorities for constructing the sea wall and saving them from the present situation. “They seem to be not interested in the lives of the people here,” they alleged. The demand for a sea wall by the Chellanam residents is decades old. The government had at one time started t6he construction but the work was stalled, especially because of the lack of boulders. With the non availability of specific size of boulders, the authorities had come with alternatives for the construction of sea wall. The construction using geotubes also could not be taken ahead because of the unavailability of sand.