House still a dream for coastal families

Alappuzha: Many coastal families here remain homeless, despite the state's promise of homes for all.

In the old former Purakkad Panchayat office, seven families are struggling to cope with adversities. On its ground floor is an Anganwadi with ten kids.

On the first floor, their shared toilet is overflowing with the dirty water spreading across the passage and the rooms. The odour of water, urine and cooking oil fills the air.

An inmate struggles with his chickenpox. They cook, eat and sleep in the dingy rooms four years now. Health or panchayat authorities do not care.

Each room has a family of four or five.

Sajna Junaid, 29, and kids Sinan, 8, and Sinaj, 5, live on the rooftop along with Vasundhara, 59, and her husband Ponnappan, 75, after rough sea swept their homes away.

Sajna had 8.5 cents of land and a house in ward number 17. Fisheries department did not help her for her husband is not a traditional fisherman.

LIFE Mission is yet to respond to her application. Now, she does not know what's the way forward. The family live on a meagre income of Junaid, an ice cream vendor.   

Vasundhara's life turned worse after rains intensified.

'The roof sheets are too old and damaged. The rainwater directly falls into the room through holes. It has been several nights since we slept a bit," she says.

She had 7.5 cents and a house in Ward 18. Their four sons moved to their in-laws' homes after they lost their properties to the sea.

She knocked doors of five collectors and two chief ministers to get their name included in a housing scheme but in vain as they were peasants, not fishers.

Their roof sheets were flown away in recent rains, and they find it difficult to live there.

Radha Chacko, 66, and other families in this crammed building also share the same plight.

Asha Abraham, tahsildar, Ambalappuzha, says they were enumerating the homeless families for a 'Flat Scheme' to come up soon.      

Anganwadi in a refugee camp!

The saddest part of the story in the camp is the Anganwadi functioning in unsanitary conditions. Ten kids were sitting on the floor of a dingy room where books, toys sacks of grains and a pair of desks and benches lay strewn. It has a window and a door, both shut with three older women inside. The inmates of nearby rooms are hanging around.

The women refused to provide any information about Anganwadi.   All they said was that 'they were happy with the facilities'. Neither will they allow to get inside.

The inmates said it opened a year after they started residing there. "It's so sad to see the kids sitting inside the room throughout the day. What can we do?" asks one.

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