Tsunami survivors beg for houses

2005-12-25 10:18
Port Blair, India - Housing being provided by India in the tsunami-battered Andamans is "totally unsuitable", a UN expert said, while thousands of survivors crammed into tin shacks begged for proper housing a year after the disaster.

Miloon Kothari, the United Nation's special rapporteur on adequate housing, criticised living conditions in the archipelago, home to the Onges, Sentanalese, Shompens, Jarawas and the Great Andamanese indigenous tribes.

"Unlike other places, the situation in the Andamans is different, largely because it is federally-ruled and a protected area," Kothari said on Saturday.

"The Andaman administration is top-heavy and so all decision are taken in New Delhi or in Port Blair (capital of the Andamans).

"And so when it came to housing, instead of listening to tribals, instead of looking at indigenous designs, instead of looking at the space tribals are used to, India imposed specific building designs and building materials which were supplied in large numbers but by contractors from outside and these are totally unsuitable," Kothari told AFP.

Heat forced survivors to abandon shacks

Torrid heat forced survivors to abandon temporary shacks in some of the 36 inhabited isles of the Andaman island chain but punishing rains drove them back into the tin shelters erected by the Indian government.

"We are literally caught between a cruel devil and the deep sea," said Aiysha Majid, council chief of 15 villages that make up the isles of Nancowry and Kamorta where New Delhi has set up 735 shelters for tribal inhabitants.

"We are now desperate. We don't know what to do... we are doomed," Majid told AFP by telephone from Kamorta, an Indian naval base.

Almost 2 000 people were killed and 5 500 are still missing after waves as high as 36m crashed into the palm-fringed Andaman and Nicobar island group which stretches from Myanmar to Indonesia on December 26.

The tsunami razed 50 000 houses

The tsunami razed 50 000 houses, hundreds of schools, hospitals, police and fire station and other government buildings, wrecked 70 percent of the archipelago's jetties and turned harbours into a graveyard of sunken boats and ships.

"We are forced to live in these shacks which turn into ovens even in December which has forced many to build wooden varandahs to cool off," Majid said from Kamorta, where malaria is rife.

"These sheds cannot withstand even the mild aftershocks we now face, leave alone the power of the earthquake that caused the tsunami," said village council chief Wilson Amos of Nicobar, where India has erected 3 866 shelters as part of a three-year programme to "change the face of Andamans".

"Tribals live in traditional stilted houses made of bamboo but there was no consultation when India arbitrarily set up these," he said by telephone from Nicobar, where the giant waves wiped out India's most strategic airbase in the Indian Ocean.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.