Bindu and her three children left their home on Wednesday, August 7. The next day, their house was destroyed in a landslide, following two days of heavy, incessant rains.
The family lived in a terraced house in three cents of land at Ambuttanpetty near Kavalappara in Pothukal panchayat, Malappuram. Now they have nowhere to go. Bindu, her two sons and daughter are living in a relief camp at a madrasa in Veliyambam, where they shifted as the rains did not abate.
“It all happened in a matter of hours. The intensity of the rains of those two days were like the rains of two months. We had moved out of the house on Wednesday, but returned on Thursday when the water receded a bit. However, we rushed back as the rains gathered strength and the landslide happened,” Bindu tells TNM.
The family of five earned their living by selling milk that they got from their cow. Bindu’s younger sister Smitha’s house, which was near Bindu’s, was destroyed in the landslide too. Smitha’s family also used to sell milk.
“Living in a camp or in a relative’s house with a cow is tough. We are thinking of renting a house now, though I don’t know how to meet all the expenses with a single income,” Bindu says.
According to the official estimate as on Saturday, a total of 1,186 houses have been fully destroyed while 12,761 houses are partially damaged across the state.
Like Bindu, the question of where to go from the relief camps is a pressing concern for many.
A house destroyed in landslides at Ambuttanpetty
“Even if it is in a relative’s house, for how long will we be able to live there? After all, it is not a single person, but a family. There were 14 houses in the row where we lived and all of them have been destroyed. Nothing like this has happened ever before. We were born here, lived here, it’s the land where my parents also lived,” Bindu says.
52- year-old Sabeer’s family, which includes his 80-year-old father and 65-year-old mother, left home when he was away at work on August 8.
Their house at Kunippala in Pothukal was destroyed in the landslides and the family has now been shifted to a relative’s home from a relief camp functioning at the forest station in Kunippala.
“We could save our lives since we moved out. But we don’t know what is the way forward,” Sabeer tells TNM.
The family had a tiled house built on five cents of land. Sabeer is a worker in a shop and the family of six, including his wife and children, live on his single income.
As many as 243 houses have been completely destroyed while 276 of them have been partially destroyed in Pothukal panchayat.
A massive landslide occurred in Kavalappara on August 8, where 100 acres of land were swept away. In Kavalappara, there were 155 houses, of which 48 houses were fully destroyed.
Wayanad district witnessed 10 landslides. There were 23 minor landslides in Palakkad, 11 landslides in Malappuram and 13 landslides in Idukki in less than a week.
“Pothukallu is the worst affected and the entire region has been submerged. 59 people went missing and 26 people are yet to be traced. 14 relief camps have been functioning in Pothukallu, in which nearly 6,200 people have been housed. We are cleaning the houses which were left behind with the support of various agencies and volunteers so that the number of camps can be cut down and some of the people would be able to move back to their houses,” GP Raghavan, Pothukallu panchayat secretary tells TNM.
“There’s no decision yet on how the people whose houses were completely destroyed will be rehabilitated. The discussions are still on,” he adds.
The government needs to work fast and find solutions for relocating the people lodged in camps.
“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. Seven people are still missing. For the people who have lost houses, the government is trying to get rented houses or shift them to buildings under the government or some other rent-free accommodation. The people in Puthumala, nearly 3000 of them, are living in camps which are functioning in schools. All of them have been shifted to safer places,” Kalpetta MLA CK Saseendran tells TNM. He adds that the government is trying to locate such houses quickly since schools will reopen soon.