A year after Aila, people in the Sunderbans living on the edge

GOSABA (SUNDERBANS): Houses patched up with tarpaulin, palm leaves, bundled hay, tin and mud; embankments repaired from fresh mud barely withstanding the onslaught of tides and heavy rains; homes rebuilt, only to be washed away in tidal surges, increasing incidents of tiger attacks – a year after cyclone Aila ravaged the region, the inhabitants of the estuarine islands here are still living on the edge.

Aila and aftermath: No respite for the residents of Pakhirala in the Sundarbans.

Madhumita Paik holds out a “zero point book” – the name in local parlance for the passbooks of bank accounts that were opened to provide compensation promised by the government. Since her house was razed to the ground, she was eligible for the full compensation of Rs.10,000 – but other than her blank passbook, there was no sign of the money.

Nearly three lakh families were affected in South 24 Parganas district in the wake of Aila. District authorities said only about half the claimants have received the compensation amount so far.

Haripada Sil was among the luckier ones who did receive the promised compensation. He is a resident of Lahiripur gram panchayat where the percentage of beneficiaries is even less – barely a third of the total.

After spending a monsoon, autumn and winter under a tarpaulin sheet perched on an embankment, Haripada Sil had rebuilt his home on the edge of the island once the money had come through. But his newly built home was again washed away in a tidal surge last week.

His fate is shared by about 40 families in Pakhirala village who are living in temporary shelters on the banks of public ponds.

They are no longer eligible for compensation under Aila funds and panchayat officials have already informed them that they cannot permanently set up homes beside these ponds.

For many, the compensation is needed, not to rebuild their homes – but to buy provisions. With a failed crop, there are no stores of foodgrains and the money will help tide over the crisis. Avenues of livelihood have dried up with no demand for agricultural labour and a drastic reduction in the fish catch.

While schools have become operational, the mid-day meal scheme, intermittent before the cyclone, has been scrapped.

But the gravest apprehensions are about the embankments. Breaches in dykes were plugged with fresh soil – which tends to be weaker than the parts of the earthen embankments that have hardened with successive seasons under the sun.

By Ananya Dutta – From THE HINDU

Post-cyclone scenario

What remains:The Marina beach strewn with garbage tossed about by the cyclone on Thursday. — Photo: S. Abishek

From THE HINDU

Ramanathapuram: Second cyclone warning

PRECAUTION:Cyclone warning flag number 2 hoisted in Pamban on Tuesday. — Photo: L. Balachandar.

Fishermen using all types of boats advised not to venture into sea

RAMANATHAPURAM: A cyclone warning flag, number 2, was hoisted at Pamban on Tuesday in view of the cyclonic storm ‘Laila’ moving westwards along the Bay of Bengal coast. Though a fishing holiday is in force, fishermen using all types of boats have been advised not to venture into sea in view of the prevailing weather.

The sea is expected to be rough during the night. The cyclone warning flag, number one, was hoisted on Monday.

From THE HINDU

Chennai: Cyclone weakens, likely to cross TN coast

CHENNAI: Cyclone Ward’ has weakened into a deep depression and is expected to cross the Tamil Nadu coast between Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam early on Tuesday, said Meteorological Department officials. Only light showers are expected in Chennai.

The depression on Sunday evening was positioned at 9.0 degrees latitude and 83.0 degrees longitude, 400 km south-east of Nagapattinam and 400 km east of Pamban near Rameswaram.

The weather office officials said the system was likely to move in a west-south-westerly direction and cross north Sri Lanka coast in the early hours of Monday. Ward, they added, was then expected to enter the Gulf of Mannar and cross the south Tamil Nadu coast between Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam on Tuesday morning.

Due to the effect of the system, isolated heavy to very heavy rain is likely over north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the next 48 hours. Rainfall with scattered heavy to very heavy falls and isolated extremely heavy falls is also likely over south-coastal Tamil Nadu during the same period.

The sea condition is expected to be very rough along and off the south Tamil Nadu coast as well as the north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea. From Saturday night, Nagapattinam district received heavy rains. Due to the cyclone, danger signal number three had been hoisted at the port.

“As the depression will pass through Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam, Chennai will not have much rains. Light or thunder showers can be expected in the city,” said an official.

With a third cyclone warning being issued for Rameswaram, the sea remained rough on Sunday and the day cloudy with a slight drizzle continuing throughout the day. Strong winds resulted in the some of the boats anchored off the coast getting damaged due to collision with one another and fishermen were no allowed to venture into the sea.

In Nagapattinam, a 120-member anti-disaster task Force arrived from Arakkonam to meet any eventuality caused by the cyclone, when it crosses the coast. Fishermen and coastal residents have been given a set of instructions to prepare them for potential disaster. A round-the-clock control room is also functioning.

Fishermen in 206 fishing hamlets in Nagapattinam stayed off the sea for the third consecutive day as heavy rains lashed the coastal district on Sunday. Strong winds in the coastal areas kept the residents worried.

From TOI

Cyclone Ward to cross Tamil Nadu coast Sunday, December, 13th, 2009 night

Chennai, Dec 13 (IANS) Cyclone Ward is likely to cross Tamil Nadu coast between Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam around night Sunday, the Indian Meteorological Department said.

The cyclone, currently centred around 400 km from Nagapattinam, is expected to move in a West Southwesterly direction and cross North Sri Lanka around noon Sunday.

‘It will then emerge into Gulf of Mannar and cross Tamil Nadu coast Sunday night,’ an official said.

According to him, rainfall is expected over coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over next 48 hours.

Squally winds at speed reaching 55-65 kmph are likely along the coast during the next 48 hours.

As the sea will be rough, fishermen are advised against venturing into the waters.

Meanwhile, the district administration in Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari are on high alert and gearing up relief measures.

From Yahoo India

Chennai: Rain likely for two days

CHENNAI: The city is likely to get rain for the next two days with the deep depression intensifying into cyclonic storm ‘Ward’, which lies 550 km south east of Nagapattinam and 700 km south-southeast of Chennai on Friday.

Meteorological Department officials said the cyclonic system is likely to move in north westerly direction towards the Tamil Nadu coast during the next two days.

From THE HINDU

Karnataka: Cyclone to unleash heavy rain over State

Bangalore: A cyclone developing over the Arabian Sea is likely to intensify in the next 48 hours bringing heavy rain to coastal Karnataka, according to the Meteorological Department here.

Bangalore and other parts of interior Karnataka will also come within the cyclone’s reach, said B. Putanna, an official with the Met Department. Cloudy skies and rainfall will continue for the next two days at least.

The IMD’s cyclone alert for the south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coast sounds a warning for coastal Karnataka, which, it says, will see “heavy to very heavy” rainfall along with squally winds with speeds “reaching 55 to 65 kmph and gusting to 75 kmph”.

The sea will be very rough along the Karnataka coast, it adds.

From THE HINDU