The move to construct amphibious houses for the residents of the sinking islands of Munroe Thuruthu is unscientific, according to environmentalists belonging to the Kerala Environment Research Association. The plan was mooted by the CPM and the houses were designed by the Indian Architects Association. The environment is not suitable for setting up such houses, they said and added that the islands experience sinking of land and not flooding alone. They also warned that such unscientific methods would adversely affect the fragile ecology in these islands.
“These islands which span across 13.4 square kilometres experience a rare phenomenon of sinking of land after the tsunami of 2014. Several houses and agricultural properties were inundated with water from Ashtamudi lake. This is caused by a slight shifting of minor tectonic plates during the tsunami,” said Mr Sainudeen Pattazhi, environmental scientist. “The amphibious houses designed by the architects are not suitable for the ecology of Munroe Thuruthu,” Mr. Sainudeen added.
Citing that amphibious houses are popular in countries like Indonesia and Philippines where the land is permanently flooded, Mr. Sainudeen said such houses are not constructed in places where the land itself is sinking. “The Munroe Thuruthu could be used for village tourism projects after rehabilitating the residents. The ecology should be conserved through afforestation of mangroves. Unscientific development initiatives would adversely affect the environment,” Mr. Sainudeen said.
The CPM had taken up the initiative to build amphibious houses for the residents to overcome the constant threat of flooding prevalent in the islands. The houses will be constructed using materials with less weight and will have a special design at the bottom to keep them buoyant in the flood water. The CPM had also decided to construct at least one house in each local committee area. The project has landed in uncertainty with the environmentalists opposing the idea.