'Kerala's Own Army' returns to guard the banks of Periyar

Fishermen from Vypeen and Chellanam taking their boats for rescue operations.

Kochi: The fishermen from Vypeen and Chellanam coast in Kochi, who were lauded for rescue operations during the 2018 floods, are once again ready to help the Ernakulam district administration to face any eventuality in case of another flood in the Periyar suburbs.

Though the situation is not alarming, they were posted in Aluva by the district administration well ahead of the arrival of the dam water from Idamalayar and Idukki to the town.

A total of 13 boats are anchored at the Pulinchode side of the Periyar river in Aluva.

In each boat, four fishermen are posted. The District Collectorate pressed them into the service in advance to ward off any loss of life due to floods in case any extraordinary situation happens. Their special task will be to rescue people if the floods affect the low-lying areas in Aluva and the suburbs.

Known as 'Kerala's own Army', these fishermen got national recognition for their selfless service by rescuing hundreds of ordinary people from August 15 to 19 in 2018 in and around Aluva. They derive their strength from the long experience they had gained fighting the rough sea.

Though they are a little bit unhappy with the state government for not providing them enough compensation to repair the boats that were damaged in the floods in 2018, they feel that this is not the right time to air such demands. They want to serve the people now. If the need arises, they will bring more boats to rescue people.

Meanwhile, the district administration is taking all steps to face any kind of extraordinary situation even though the water level in Bhoothathankettu has not gone up considerably even after opening two shutters of the Idamalayar dam in the morning. A posse of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been already posted at Aluva.

The official expectation is that the water level in the Periyar river will not go up in an alarming way even when the released water from the Idukki Dam reaches Aluva by midnight.

In 2018, the water released from the dam reached the Periyar river in Aluva at a time the water level in the river was already high due to heavy rain, leading to instant floods and the resultant destruction.

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