While Puthumala begins rehabilitation, Kavalappara still awaits confirmation from GSI.

Malappuram landslide survivors left waiting for geologists nod before rehabilitation
news Kerala floods 2019 Saturday, August 24, 2019 - 09:38

More than two weeks after two districts in the state of Kerala were hit by major landslides causing severe damage to human lives and property, one has already begun it’s road to recovery while the other is still grappling with the tragedy. It was on August 8 that the Puthumala village of Kerala’s Wayanad district and Kavalappara in Malappuram district experienced severe landslides, causing the most number of deaths in the deluge and landslides this year.

Days later,  the Meppadi panchayat, under which the Puthumala area comes, has come up with a comprehensible rehabilitation plan as it has secured sponsorship to rebuild most of the houses that were destroyed during the landslides. Speaking to TNM on August 17, CK Saseendran, the Kalpetta MLA had said that, “In Meppadi, as many as 59 houses out of the total 62 houses that existed, were swept away in the massive landslide. The remaining 11 houses can’t be used.”

According to a report by Times of India, the Meppadi panchayat in Wayanad has secured the sponsorship to rebuild 54 houses and have also come up with measures to procure 10 acres of land from a plantation area to develop a mini township, where the panchayat is planning on building around 100 houses, school, anganwadi and so on. 

However, the situation at Malappuram’s Kavalappara continues to remain grim, as the focus is still largely on finding the bodies still buried beneath. Most people who lost their homes and family members in the disaster, continue to remain in relief camps without any promises or hopes of getting new homes. Speaking to TNM, Dileep, a resident of Kavalappara as well a local party worker said that the Pothukal panchayat under which comes Kavalappara, has not yet informed them about any rebuilding or rehabilitation plans. 

“I have started seeing campaigns cropping up on social media saying #RebuildNilambur, with the intention of grabbing the attention of the authorities to do something regarding the houses that were destroyed during the landslide. As of now, the village officer nor the panchayat hasn’t told us anything,” says Dileep. 

However, Riny Varghese, the Pothukal village officer, said that the Panchayat can only come up with a rehabilitation plan after the Geological Survey of India (GSI) submits a report regarding the condition of the land where the landslides took place. “The authorities from GSI have been examining the landslide area in Kavalappara for the last couple of days. Following their examination, they will submit a report to the District Collector, based on which, we can plan our rehabilitation programmes,” he said. The GSI will determine if the area located on the ghats is safe for constructing houses again. Until then, the families who lost their homes will continue to live in relief camps and in the homes of their relatives, added Riny.

Kavalappara, which witnessed one of the biggest landslides in the state, where more than 58 people lost their lives, is situated in regions of moderate sensitivity or Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) 3, according to the Madhav Gadgill report of 2011, which banned quarrying in all the ESZ’s. A map prepared by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) map shows that 21 quarries operate within a radius of five to 10 km of Kavalappara. 

Read: When a landslide wiped out most of a Kerala village: Ground report from Kavalappara

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