|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Rural rides through tsunami-hit country
Ganesh Nadar in Tuticorin | January 03, 2005 22:38 IST
Last Updated: January 12, 2005 21:04 IST
Travelling through Tuticorin, one realises that even the tsunami affects the rich and the poor differently.
The general manager of one of the biggest industrial units in Tuticorin was on a holiday in Port Blair. He was, of course, staying in a star hotel.
After the tsunami struck they had to sleep outdoors due to the fear of possible quake aftershocks.
On the third day they were flown back to Chennai.
In contrast there is this poor man who lost his wife and daughter in the Andamans. He wanted to stay back there and look for them, but was forcibly evacuated by the officials.
Now he spends all his time waiting to go back.
From Tuticorin we took the road to Madurai. From there we went to Ramanathapuram.
Trevelling on the bumpy road, the first village on the coast is Vembar.
It is a big village with over 100 boats bobbing on the water. The sea looked a deep blue, almost purple.
Last Sunday, five young girls were walking back home along the shore when the waves struck and they were submerged.
People on the beach managed to save four of the girls. Five-year-old Musseeda Vinnarasi could not be saved.
Her body was recovered later, carried inland by the waters.
Two adults, who were also dragged by the waves managed to save themselves.
No boats or houses were damaged, but a lot of nets were lost.
Jayabalan, a fisherman, told us that they had gone to sea and cast their nets on Saturday. In the normal course, they would go back on Monday to recover their catch.
He wanted to go back into the sea but the officials did not give them permission.
"The Mandapam fishermen have gone back; they did not wait for government permission," he mumbled to himself.
The government has so far distributed 10 kg of rice to each of the fishermen's family. The government has promised 60kg of rice.
After Vembar, the next big town is Sayalkudi. Mukkayur is a fishing village that is a few kilometres from Vembar.
When the Tsunami struck, these villagers fled to Sayalkudi and spent the night there. They came back the next day. Nothing happened to them. The ones that had gone to sea came back two days later.
Further North in Valnokkam, two people lost their lives.
Eruvadi has a fishing community. Five women had gone to collect seaweeds that fateful Sunday.
They were tied to their boats as is the practise here. When the waves struck, the people on the boat managed to pull back three of the women.
Two died in that wave -- siblings Chellamal aged 30 and Kaliammal aged 27.
State Animal Husbandry Minister Damodran gave the promised Rs 2 lakh to the family.
Other fishermen lost their nets, but no boats or houses were damaged.
It was 8 pm in the night. The Kadaladi tahsildhar A Meiyappan was sitting in the VAO office, Eruvadi.
He had been distributing the promised rice to the fisher folk. He said that they had given the rice to all ration card-holders.
They had asked for a list of people who had lost their family cards. The next day he would give them the promised quota of rice too.
The government would also be distributing Rs 2000 cash, one saree, one dhothi, and two bedsheets to each family.
12 km from Eruvadi is rich township Keelakarai, in Ramanad district. It has its own engineering college.
The tsunami caused no damage here.
Another 12 km and we reached the district headquarters of Ramnad district, Ramanathapuram town.
We were 270 km away from Kanyakumari. Next on the itinerary is the island of Rameshwaram and then Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts.
Tsunami Strikes: The Complete Coverage
More reports from Tamil Nadu