Homeless in Purakad angry, seek shelter

Most of them were built under the tsunami rehabilitation project.

ALAPPUZHA: Some 135 fisher families in coastal Purakkad and surrounding areas left homeless for years by sea erosion are on the warpath seeking permanent shelter. They barged into the Purakkad Panchayat office on Saturday and locked up the officials, following which the district collector called a meeting in his chamber on January 17. These families are living in three relief camps. Bindu Shaji, the ward member, said they would intensify protests if the authorities failed to provide habitable land.

"For years, they are living in insecure places and officials could not meet their promises," she said. “The district collector is on leave. We will wait until the January 17 meet. If it fails, the nature of the protest will change.” Their number has soared, and many found refuge in houses of relatives and camps. Few are forced to rent houses for the protection of their children. Two years ago, a meeting with then collector N. Padmakumar had decided to give land to at least 22 homeless but never implemented for technical reasons.

In 2013 there were eight families left homeless and 11 in 2014. By 2015, it more than tripled to 39. This year 32 families lost their houses. Saraswathy, 60, was living alone in relief camps since her house was swept away last year. Her two sons shifted to their in-law’s houses. "I don’t have money to rent a house. I lost my five cents and home. I have no place to go," she laments. "Politicians cheated us," cries Rohini, 51. "They come with the bundle of promises during elections and just vanish after that. Never again."

Most of them were built under the tsunami rehabilitation project. But they never expected such destructive sea erosion. They blame it on the sand mining, now stopped. The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR) had on Thursday ordered the closure of relief camps at Government New LPS Purakkad as it disrupts the academic atmosphere. Eight families were living there for the last two years.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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