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'Welcome to Tsunami Junction'

By George Iype in Alappuzha
January 10, 2005 13:19 IST
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'Welcome to Tsunami Junction'.

Over two weeks after the tsunami if you happen to visit the small coastal village of Tharayilkadavu in Kerala's Alappuzha district, this is the signpost that will greet you.

Tharayilkadavu is one of the scores of villages across the Kerala coast to be ravaged by the tsunami waves. At least 180 people are confirmed dead in the state.

Nearly 210 families live in Tharayilkadavu, which has a population of about 1,100.

The villagers, many of whose houses were lost in the disaster, christened the village Tsunami Junction last week, in memory of the 17 people whose lives were claimed by the killer waves.

K Radhakrishnan, a fisherman who narrowly escaped the marauding waves and ran to safety picking up two children, but witnessed three of his neighbours being washed away into the sea, is at the forefront of the move to get the village renamed.

"This is our parting tribute to all our dear villagers who met a watery grave. We loved the sea. This sea has been our livelihood. Now that the tsunami has destroyed us, we want to name our village as Tsunami Junction," he said.

Xavier Dominic, another fisherman, says the villagers do not want to be known as inhabitants of Tharayilkadavu. "Because our old village is gone forever with the waves, we would like our village to be know as Tsunami village in memory of all those who died here," Dominic said.

He said the villagers would request the Alappuzha district administration to effect the change officially in the record books.

The Kerala government has submitted a memorandum to the Centre seeking Rs 1,358.62 crore for relief works and rehabilitation of people affected by the tsunami.

The state government says massive relief works are needed to restore normalcy in many affected villages. Damages to breakwaters, sewage treatment plants, protection walls, approach roads, parking areas, auction halls, wharfs, electrical systems and fender systems have to be repaired. Also, silt has to be removed from basin.

The state government has estimated that the tsunami waves have destroyed 10,882 fishing craft of various types, worth over Rs 100 crore, in Kerala. This constituted nearly 18 per cent of the fishing craft operating in the state.

Many villagers affected by the tsunami are now housed in various relief centers in Alappuzha and Kollam districts. The Kerala government has deputed teams of doctors and psychiatric workers to provide post-trauma care and psychological support to them.

Doctors said some survivors, especially women who lost children, were suffering from acute stress disorders and depression.


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George Iype in Alappuzha