The Hindu , 13 July 2006

Sea leaves a trail of destruction

Thiruvananthapuram: Panic has gripped the coastal areas in the city as severe sea erosion claimed vast tracts of land, uprooting trees, damaging houses and displacing families.

The district administration has opened a relief camp at Valiaveli to accommodate 73 families which have lost their houses to the invading sea.

With high waves pounding the coast for over two days, fishing villages wore a ravaged look. The residents were seen packing up their meagre belongings.

Local residents said they had not seen such severe erosion in the last 50 years. The district administration swung into action to provide relief and rehabilitation.

The raging sea claimed two houses to the north of Arattukadavu in Shanghumughom ward and brought down three electric posts. Kerala State Electricity Board personnel rushed to the spot to cut off power supply.

The Water Resources Department has started stacking sand bags to shore up the vulnerable section of the coast in the area.

Forty families have been displaced at Valiaveli. The strong tidal action destroyed 15 houses and damaged 25. The worst erosion has been reported from the South Thumba area where 30 houses have been lost to the sea. Dozens of coconut palms lining the shore have been uprooted. The waves carried away a chunk of land, leaving pits up to four metres deep. Revenue officials who were on the spot on Tuesday witnessed houses and trees being consumed by the waves.

Thiruvananthapuram Tahsildar Mohanan Pillai said the displaced families were housed at St. Thomas Lower Primary School. "We have made arrangements to provide cooked food. Doctors from the primary health centre at Veli will visit the relief camp to provide medical assistance," he said.

District Collector N. Ayyappan said the administration would provide compensation to the families which have lost their houses. "We are estimating the loss," he said.

The Central team visiting Kerala will be taken to the worst-affected areas on Friday.