Dirty polluted water seeps into the houses of more than 600 slum dwellers of the P&T Colony situated at the banks of Perandoor canal every time it rains.
Kochi: When the high tide sets in, the water carries sewage and waste into the 92 houses placed right next to the banks of the polluted Perandoor canal, submerging them. Slum-dwellers have lost important documents and other belongings due to the flooding. Residents say that this has been happening for the past two decades. They also said that authorities have only opened temporary relief settlement camps and done nothing else. According to Sarasa Amma, “Even the collector has come and visited but nothing has been done. The water level reaches our knees and drowns all our belongings every time it rains.”
The people of the colony are daily wage earners. Most of them are auto-rickshaw drivers, housemaids and headload workers. Because of coming in contact with the dirty canal water, the residents also face skin allergies and infections. To add to their woes, the Indian Oil Corporation has filed a case against them asking them to move as the houses are close to the oil tankers. Under the Life Mission Kerala- Housing Scheme, the Greater Cochin Development Authority took up a Rs 15-crore rehabilitation project for the P&T colony two years ago. The foundation stone for the construction of 88 houses in Mundamveli was laid by the Chief Minister on the July 31’st, 2018. However, authorities state that the work has been delayed due to floods and insufficient funding. According to Jeby John, Secretary of GCDA, “The work has begun. The time of completion given for this is 325 days. If the circumstances are favourable unlike the last two years, the work will be completed on time.”
The Gandhi Nagar Municipality has recognized the colony as inhabitable. According to Poornima Narayanan, an official from the municipality, “I am the only councillor who has not signed the Open Defecation Free statement in the entire state. I stated that unless and until P&T rehabilitation happens you can’t say my division is ODF.”
Abhishek Xavier, an urban designer, said that increase in urbanization, pollution of water bodies and absence of waste management strategies have specially made low lying settlements along with the watercourses vulnerable to flooding. He added, “We need planned densities for development. We need water management and waste management strategies so that encroachment of water bodies can be controlled and supervised.”