Tsunami wounds still sore, 2 yrs later

Two years after the killer waves struck, most of those affected still wait for the promised homes, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2006 16:19 IST

It was on a Sunday that Kannan lost his wife and a four-year-old daughter to the killer tsunami two years ago. The fisherman has still not come to terms with his loss.

Sundays have become a symbol of remembrance for the 35-year-old. It is a ritual with him to visit the graves of his wife and daughter every Sunday at a mass burial ground with about 40 headstones.

As Kannan chokes back emotions at his home at Mandapathur, the outcome of a reconstruction effort, it is evident that loss has taken precedence over everything else in his life.

The fishermen clustered around him mumbled something in Tamil. AMH Nazeem, leader of opposition, Pondicherry, promptly translates: "They say as a tribute to the thousands devoured by tsunami, fishing nets will never ever be cast into the sea on December 26." The fishermen have asked the government to declare December 26 a holiday. The tsunami took 602 lives in Karaikal.

Pondicherry tsunami relief commissioner S Kumaraswamy told the Hindustan Times that the government was on the verge of appointing a World Bank (WB) consultant to chalk out a revival plan for the livelihood sector — an initiative for which the WB has committed about Rs 135 crore.

Pondicherry received a financial package of Rs 175 crore from the Centre this year for rebuilding infrastructure and is hoping for a second tranche of Rs 120 crore for 2007-08. The WB has chipped in with an additional Rs 49 crore for reconstruction projects for the over 10,000 people affected. Against a target of 7,500 dwelling units, only 1,500 have been readied.

Thirunavukkaras's shack is still within hissing distance of the waves. He still waits for the promised home. The only consolation for him on the tsunami's second anniversary: that he is still alive.

For the ones who are not, he will light a candle on Tuesday.

Email Rahul Singh: rahulsingh@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Dec 30, 2006 16:19 IST