Monsoon sea swells are gnawing at lives along Vadakara coast

The saltwater has corroded the metallic board that stood outside the fish landing centre at Kuriyadi near Vadakara. File photo: Manorama

Kozhikode: As heavy rains return intermittently and the sea turns rough, oftentimes Sunitha and Sreejith from Kuriyadi, Chorode near Vadakara panic.

Kuriyadi is situated along Ward 17 of Chorode grama panchayat and Ward 1 in the municipal limits.

"Where can we go with Amma who can walk only with help?" wondered Sunitha while pointing to the mud that has filled the courtyard and the broken window panes.

"Only during July's first week, the sea was rough; high waves lashed our house, but we stuck on here instead of staying for days in the camp," said Sunitha.

"It's not safe to stay in the house when the sea is rough," she sighed.

"The waves lashed into our house directly carrying all kinds of waste and mud. Earlier we used to leave for the nearest shelter, the Fisheries school. Now we are not leaving, as Amma is too weak and it's not easy to stay in camp for days. It's not safe to stay at home during swells either. However, we stick on and pray. May God almighty save us..." Sunitha lamented.

Kuriyadi, Avikkal and Muttungal villages along the Vadakara coast have been affected by the sea invasion. Photo: Special arrangement

After every sea swell, the challenging task is to clean the house, furniture, clothes and so on; all the books are damaged, said Sunitha, whose TV, refrigerator, electric fans and other electric equipment are on 'strike' since the monsoon started.

Sunitha is one among the thousands of hapless people of Kuriyadi, Avikkal and Muttungal villages along the Vadakara coast in Kozhikode who face inconveniences alongside existential insecurities every monsoon.

They don't have the protection of sea walls or breakwaters to defend them from the high strong waves. A total of 20 houses in the beach area are directly affected by the sea; the residents don't have a place to go except for the temporary shelter at the Fisheries school.

As the sea wall has been destroyed, high waves are now gnawing at residential areas damaging roads, walls and houses: both roads in the area gave in, and now houses and temples are under threat.

The fishermen are going to the fish landing centre in lorries and auto-rickshaws.

"Now we are not leaving the houses, trying to stick to the maximum," said Jithesh Panantavide, from Kuriyadi beach. High waves reached his front yard, crossing the road.

"If there is a proper sea wall, waves will not enter our homes. The roads also may not be affected. Making a T-shaped breakwater will provide proper protection to the seashore from the high waves for decades," Jithesh, a fisherman who works as a lifeguard on the beach, pointed out.

The beach area has two roads, starting from Chombala fish landing centre, leading to Avikkal and Kuriyadi. These two have been completely destroyed by swells. At times the roads will be filled with mud, bricks and waste from the sea.

"During those days, we may not be able to go to work. Many times we cleaned the road voluntarily. Last time we cleaned the road, the very next day, the sea turned rough again and destroyed everything," he added.

This collage shows how the sea wall has been breached at Kuriyadi near Vadakar in Kozhikode. Photos: Special arrangement

Fishermen from Kuriyadi have to ply their vehicles through private property for hundreds of metres as the road is completely damaged now. Almost a thousand fishermen work at the fish landing centre.

People on strike seeking protection
People of the area formed the 'Kuriyadi theera samraksana samithi' (Kuriyadi seashore protection council). The council conducted a march to the revenue divisional office on July 15, demanding urgent action to assure their safety. Their main demands are to make small breakwaters and reconstruction of the damaged portion of the sea wall.

"About 530 m of the sea wall was destroyed. There was a proposal for a Rs 103 crore project for the reconstruction of the sea wall. But nothing has been done. Unless both sides of the Chombala fish landing centre are protected by breakwaters, it will be completely destroyed by the waves," said P Asokan, chairman of 'Kuriyadi theera samraksana samithi' and state president of All India Fishermen Congress.

There is a proposal for a project costing Rs 5.15 crore, which includes the rebuilding of the sea wall, breakwaters, reconstruction of the roads and so on.

'If the wall is not rebuilt sooner, houses, the health sub-centre and both temples will be affected," said Priyanka, member of Ward 17 in Chorode grama panchayat.

As a temporary solution, a wall using mettle boxes was built in front of the sub-centre. But that crumbled too.

"A lot of funds are being allocated to the coastal area; but at the end of the day, diverted to VIP areas. It was the Sri Kurumba Bhagavathy Kshethram committee that re-built the Kuriyadi road recently," Priyanka said.

"The reconstruction of the sea wall will cost at least Rs 1 crore; that's why the Vadakara municipality is unable to take up the project," said Samrakshita T P, a municipality council member from Ward 1.

"We need a permanent solution. We can't make the villagers suffer. The families are not willing to leave their houses even during sea swells. They are out in protest," she added.

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