Living in water for 45 days

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Kuttanad: Constant Bund breach has made the life of Kanakassery padasekaram (paddy fields) miserable.

If the bund near Kanakassery breached it would affect over 460 acres covering three Padashekharams including Valiyakari, Meenapally and Kanakkassery. The same was the case with bunds near the other two padasekharams. Valiyakari has an area of 250 acres, while Meenapally and Kanakkassery have an area of 117 acres each.

There are a total of 460 families living in the settlements around the three padasekharams. Total number of houses around the Kanakkasserry and Valiyakari paddy fields together stood at 225.   Meenapally paddy field was surrounded by nearly 235 houses.

The bund has breached nearly three times in the last five months. The last time it breached was on December 5, 2019. The families in the area have been surrounded by water ever since. This meant that they have virtually lived in the water for the past 45 days. The same was the case with bunds near the other two padasekharams.

Bund breaches

Farmers could harvest paddy in these padasekharam only once during the past three years. After the bund breach in 2019 August, sea sand was brought from Thottappally under the initiative of Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac to construct a new bund. However, this bund was also breached within one month. The breach had taken place within 40 days after the farmers sowed paddy saplings in the field. The breach on December 5 took place 30 days after paddy saplings for puncha (Puncha' is a type of seasonal paddy cultivation in Kuttanad) was sowed in the field.

Waterlogging

Kuppappuram Government High School in the area is full of makeshift `bridges’. The bridges are erected by tying up more than 50 benches together. These `bridges' are used to commute from the bund in front of the school to the principal's office and to various buildings that housed classrooms. These makeshift bridges were erected after many children were infected with skin diseases after they stepped into waterlogs.

P Sarngharan Headmaster of the school said that the school was in a waterlogged condition in the majority of days in a year. The only relief was that water has not yet entered the classrooms. Hence, the functioning of the school has not yet been interrupted. Nearly 170 students including those studying in preprimary sections have been enrolled in the school. Students come from areas like C Block, R Block, Naduthuruthu, Areekkal and Kuppapuram, he said.

Losses estimated at Rs 9.11 crore

The total crop loss estimated in the 450 acres covering the three padasekharams was Rs 9.11 crore. Farmers said that they could produce 25 quintals (1 quintal is 100 kilograms) of paddy from an acre of paddy field. The loss was calculated considering the present paddy price which stood at an average of Rs 27 per kilogram. Farmers had spent around 27 lakh for preparation for the cultivation.

Shaji Thattungal president of the Valiyakari Padsekhara Samithi said that they would not take up the cultivation unless the bund was strengthened using slabs and undertaking pilling works. Though the government had given sanction for this work, the tenders have not been invited. Hence there was a delay in commencing the work, he said.

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