KOCHI: Even as the government proceeds with Punargeham scheme, which aims at the rehabilitation of fishermen families residing within 50m from hightide line, there are not many takers for it in Ernakulam district, where sea erosion is severe in many places.
Since the project’s launch in 2019, only around 240 families have shown interest even though more than 1,600 families between Chellanam and Munambam were identified.
The project is also facing resistance, especially from the residents of Chellanam who have started pasting posters against it in front of their houses.
Punargeham officials said they often face threat from the residents alleging that the officials are compelling them to opt for the scheme. Residents say that they need not move out of their homes if the government’s multi-crore tetrapod seawall project aiming to check sea erosion is fully implemented.
The scheme offers Rs 10 lakh to each family willing to relocate from the coast to a safer place. Of the total amount Rs 6 lakh is for purchase of land and the remaining Rs 4 lakh for construction of a house. Moreover, their land along the coast will continue in their name, though they cannot live there nor carry out any constructions.
Out of the 240 families in Ernakulam who were approved as beneficiaries by a committee headed by the district collector, only 151 families are willing to shift to safer places abandoning their houses and land in the coast. Among these 151 families 63 families, have got their new land registered in their names.
“Of the 705 eligible families in Chellanam, only 96 have shown willingness to shift. This is despite the coast seeing severe sea erosion last year. We can only persuade them to move out. We can’t compel anyone,” said Sandeep P, nodal officer of Punargeham in Ernakulam.