Cyclone Gaja Underestimating the intensity resulted in extensive damageCyclone Gaja Underestimating the

Cyclone Gaja Underestimating the intensity resulted in extensive damageCyclone Gaja Underestimating the

first_imgA fishing boat damaged by cyclone Gaja in Kodiakkarai   –  File photo cyclones COMMENT 33 days on, a Tamil Nadu village still in the dark natural disasters SHARE SHARE EMAIL “We underestimated the intensity of Cyclone Gaja and paid a heavy price,” rues A Balamurugan, a fisherman in Kodiakkarai or Cape Calimere, the south-eastern tip of India where the Bay of Bengal meets the Palk Strait.Balamurugan was not alone in this. Fishermen in Vedaranyam’s other major fishing hamlets such as Pushpavanam and Siruthalaikadu also paid a heavy price for not taking appropriate precautions. For their part, they blamed the government and the meteorological department for not accurately predicting the likely intensity.On November 16, the cyclone, which crossed between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam with wind speeds of 184 kmph, destroyed/damaged hundreds of boats and related infrastructure causing a loss of over ₹40 crore. That apart, loss of business over a six-month period is expected to be in the range of ₹200-300 crore and fishermen expect the same to get things back to normal.High waves that accompanied the cyclone swallowed many fishing power boats and damaged many that were anchored some distance away from the shore at Kodiakkarai, which has over 300 fishermen. “I personally lost about ₹20 lakh that include boats, storage sheds and processing units while loss to the entire fishing hamlet would be around ₹15 crore,” said Balamurugan.Among all the fishing hamlets, Kodiakkarai was the worst affected in Nagapattinam district. “The cyclone was so powerful that being alive itself is a miracle,” he added. The catastrophe could not have come at a worse time. Between October and March, Kodiakkarai sees fishing business of up to ₹1 crore every day.Minuscule compensationThe Tamil Nadu government has announced a compensation of ₹35,000 for each boat. This amount, which is yet to be disbursed, is very low and will not cover the cost of even minor repairs.“We have asked for enhanced compensation,” Balamurugan said adding that some NGOs have volunteered to help in the repair work.It will take at least two months to go back to sea for fishing. There is also scarcity of workers to carry out the repairs and workers are demanding double payment, he said. Balamurugan urged the State government to construct a facility in Kodiakkarai to station fishing boats a couple of kilometre from the shore with a small channel to enable boats use it for direct access to the sea. “We want a facility similar to Nagapattinam and Siruthalaikadu for safe fishing,” he said. M Krishnamurthy, President of Siruthalaikadu village, which has a population of around 1,800, said there was only a warning to fishermen not to venture into the sea but no mention on how powerful the cyclone was likely to be to take adequate precautions and keep the boats at a safe distance from each other. “We lost over 50 power boats. Each boat costs ₹8-9 lakh. The cyclone also left hundreds of boats damaged with repair charges ranging from ₹50,000 to ₹2 lakh for each boat, he said.At Pushpavanam, fisherman A Sivasundaram, 33, claims that the huge waves entered the village and dragged into sea about 30 power boats. “Our only hope is compensation from the government,” he added. With over 50 boats stuck in five feet of slush brought in by the cyclone, the future looks bleak for the fishing community here, he said. RELATED Govt, Met could have warned us better, many fishermen feel Wind’s wrath: Uprooted trees, upended lives Even a month after Cyclone Gaja, thousands homeless SHARE COMMENTS December 25, 2018 Published on A fishing hamlet is buried in marine sludge When slush turned the white salt pans brown last_img

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