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Wednesday 29 December 2004

Notes from the Field - Kanyakumari

First hand notes from Mr Vivekandanda, CEO of SIFFS. SIFFS is doing a lot of work in the area, as it uses local communities, and is close the community that has been the worst hit - Fisherfolk.

I just returned after a couple of days providing support to relief operations in Kanyakumari District that is reeling from the aftermath of the tsunami. I shall try to share some of my thoughts and ideas on this.

First, let me respond to members who have shown interest in supporting relief work. Our organisation South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS) is currently involved in serious relief work in two districts of Tamil Nadu: Kanyakumari and Nagapatinam. We also have one staff member working on relief activities in Madras. A token relief activity is also taking place through our regional office in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

Nagapatinam is the worst affected district on the mainland from point of view of casualities (the toll in Andamans is certainly the highest and perhaps a final figure will never be arrived at). The final death toll in Nagapatinam is still difficult to anticipate and current estimates put it around 5,000. Our team is currently in Tarangambadi and struggling with removal of dead bodies that are still stuck in various ackward places. It seems that removal of dead bodies from the debris and other locations is not easy and our team says it need soldiers or para military forces to be deployed to do this and local volunteers are unsuited for the work. At least in Tarangambadi food and clothings are not a problem and this being taken care by local Rotary and Lions clubs
and individual philanthrophists. We are trying to set up a control room in Nagapatinam or Karaikal to coordinate the help from various voluntary groups from Madras and elsewhere.

In Kanyakumari, the death toll is between 1500-2000. Around 900 deaths are from Colachel alone. Around 7000 houses have been destroyed or damaged. At the moment 30,000 fisherfolk are housed in 40 camps in the southern parts of the district. The casualities start at Cape Comorin and end at around Kurumbanai, a couple of kilometers to the north of Colachel.

Meanwhile a NGO network to coordinate relief in Kanyakumari district has been formed and each of us have selected a number of camps to support. Our organisation has picked up 15 camps which house nearly 50% of the refugees in view of some of the larger camps being alloted to us for support. Rather than discourage local philanthrophy, we only plan to supplement what locals and the Government are providing. Of course, if the camps last a few more days, the locals may not be able to sustain them and we may have to increase our support.

Finally, if some of you wish to contribute to a non governmental relief initiative, you are welcome pass on your contributions to SIFFS. Cheques can be made in the name of "SIFFS" and sent to: SIFFS, Karamana, Trivandrum 695 002. We shall be using the funds for both emergency relief and rehabilitation that follows after that. The rehab is the biggest challenge facing us as restoration of the livelihood will be very difficult needing enourmous financial resources resources. Restoration of housing is not enough, restoration of fishing equipment
is essential.
2 Comments Post a Comment
Anonymous Anonymous said :

i am visiting nagapatinam along with my brother and cousin. I am a usa citizen and just coming to help out.
I was told nagapatinam was worst hit.
it there a few families I can help or build a fallen church?
This could be a future ongoing relationship with the church in the USA.
Some body please write back to rajan9e@yahoo.com

Thu Jan 06, 02:35:00 AM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

does the coast line look any different now?



Mon Jan 10, 06:59:00 PM IST