Islanders’ demand for an outer bund yet to fructify
Flooding of their homes at night during high tide at this time of the year is not new to the residents of Thanthonni Thuruth.
But they were in for a shock on Sunday night, when nearly 80% of the 63 families, with about 250 members in total, found their homes flooded, with the water rising at an alarming rate.
There was the scourge of the pandemic on one side and the sea was being equally ruthless, rued Reji T.S., an islander who is a temporary employee with the Kerala State Electricity Board.
The tidal waves lashed at the 110-acre island, just about a km from the Marine Drive and to the north of the Goshree bridges, around 11 p.m. and the water ingress continued till about 3.30 a.m. on Monday. “Using our canoes, we moved a good number of people, mostly children and women, to the GIDA (Goshree Islands Development Authority) premises. A few youngsters stayed behind to watch over the aged who were seated on raised, makeshift platforms. The flooding has been on for the past few days and this is likely to be there for a few more days,” said Mr. Reji.
When the islanders met District Collector S. Suhas, also GIDA secretary, on Monday, he said their demand for an outer bund to check water ingress would be taken up on a war footing, according to Mr. Reji. But the glitch, he said, was that the island being a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area, environmental clearance was needed. “This is what is believed to have held up the demand all these years.”
The islanders, whose only access to the mainland is by small canoes or the occasional ferry operated by the State Water Transport Department, had last week protested by aligning their canoes across the waters for a bridge to connect the place to the mainland.
Ansa James, outgoing councillor of Thattazham ward comprising the island, said funds to the tune of ₹6 crore had been sanctioned some six years ago, but environmental clearance was not forthcoming. “It would now require a fresh estimate, but I’m sure GIDA has the funds and the islanders’ demand for an outer bund is not a made-up one,” she said.
On Sunday night, there was flooding across Kochi’s estuaries and islands. “But almost every other island is linked to the mainland now, with an escape route. We have none and that is what frightens us,” said Mr. Reji. “There’s another generation growing up on the island and the only way to protect their future is to protest,” he added.
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