Fear of natural disaster has forced a majority of fishermen of Pillaichavady, Periya Kalapet and Chinna Kalapet to move to the tsunami rehabilitation housing colony from their houses along the coastline in Kalapet.
Following destruction by cyclone ‘Thane' and the tsunami alert issued on Wednesday, many people decided to move from their houses along the coast.
The housing colony which looked deserted six months ago now is now buzzing with activity with four grocery stores, a beauty parlour, dish antennas on terrace of houses, a water agencyand children returning from school.
The housing colony in Kalapet was inaugurated in February 2011 by Union Home Minister P. Chindambaram. In September 2011, The Hindu reported that the houses had not been occupied as fishermen were yet to receive title deeds and houses had not been given power connection.
With an aim to effectively manage disasters in the country, the Government has alloted Rs 23,000 crore for developing disaster management infrastructure at state, district and panchayat levels across the country.
“Addressing disaster risk reduction is therefore inseparable from the broader sustainable development agenda,” Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser told the Assembly, as it held a thematic debate on disaster risk reduction.
He pointed out, for example, that over the past three decades, the risk of economic loss as a result of floods rose by over 160 per cent, while economic loss incurred as a result of cyclones surged by 265 per cent in countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Today’s thematic debate aims to contribute to ongoing discussions on how disaster risk reduction can be best incorporated in the outcome document that will be agreed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June.
“Strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities and building a sustainable future is one of the greatest challenges faced by the international community. Rio+20 is an opportunity of a generation,” said Mr. Al-Nasser.
In his message to the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that disasters had the tendency to exacerbate poverty and undermine development planning, particularly poverty reduction strategies.
“When we reduce disaster risk, we increase our chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] and building a truly sustainable world for all,” Mr. Ban said in his <"http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=5990">message, delivered on his behalf by Susana Malcorra, his Chef de Cabinet.
Fisherfolk of Nettukuppam and Thalangkuppam in Ennore are eagerly awaiting the completion of the Rs. 5.44 crore fish landing centre, which is slated to be completed in December this year.
The centre will have a diaphragm wall at a cost of Rs. 2.18 crore, where catamarans and boats can land and bring in their catch, an auction hall worth Rs.12 lakh, a waiting hall for buyers at a cost of Rs.3 lakh and roads, drains and footpaths at a cost of Rs. 30 lakh.
Other infrastructure being created by the Fisheries Department include a net mending shed, a women's self help group building and an electronic weighing machine.
M. Kalaivanan of Nettukuppam said the fish landing centre would help trucks come right up to the boats. “Fishermen usually land their boats and walk quite a bit with the fish to reach the vehicles that take the fish to other markets,” he said.
The absence of comprehensive disaster vulnerability mapping for the 426 sq km of the city remains a major lacuna, especially for localities vulnerable to disaster.
Even though the tsunami alert on Wednesday facilitated the mobilisation of official machinery in the 29 coastal wards of the Chennai Corporation, councillors and ward-level officials in these areas said that data on reliable escape routes and the number of dilapidated structures prone to disaster had not been supplied to them.
According to disaster management experts such as N. Mathavan, who have worked on preparation of disaster resilience indices for the old city limits, the need for data on the disaster vulnerability of each of the 200 wards in the expanded Corporation limits is high, because around 90 lakh lives in and around the rapidly urbanising area are at stake. “The local community and officials should know the safest escape route in case of a disaster. They should be informed of dilapidated buildings that may collapse and the nearest hospitals for rescue operations. Comprehensive disaster vulnerability mapping will be a tool to help the community cope with disaster,” said Mr. Mathavan.