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Kalam promises permanent houses
K. Subramanian - 01/07/2005

The President gives a patient hearing to the suggestions of tsunami-hit fishermen at Velankanni.

  • Authorities brief Mr. Kalam on rehabilitation measures
  • Set up chilling plants to store fish
  • Steps on to improve soil fertility

NAGAPATTINAM: Bringing hope to the tsunami-hit areas, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Thursday promised permanent houses as early as possible for le still waiting for complete rehabilitation in Nagapattinam district.

After interacting with fisherfolk in and around Velankanni, the President said the designs of the houses to be built had to be approved now.

He spoke to the State Relief Commissioner, R. Santhanam, and Nagapattinam Collector, J. Radhakrishnan, on establishing chilling plants in coastal areas to enable fishermen to store fish and sell them after ascertaining the market position. "Many things are possible," Mr. Kalam said.

Responding to a request for the construction of a sea-face wall along the coast, the President suggested growing of trees in the coastal areas.

The President, who gave a patient hearing to the grievances and suggestions of the fishermen community, said the tsunami had caused an irreparable loss.

A number of fishermen and women wanted construction of permanent houses quickly within 200 metres from the shore.

Mr. Kalam said he was astonished to know that a fishermen family of Thirumullaivasal returned the tsunami compensation of Rs. 1 lakh (for the loss of his son) to the Nagapattinam district administration after he returned home after a week.

"I came here to review the permanent rehabilitation programmes for housing, education, fisheries and employment in the tsunami-hit areas and also to ascertain whether normalcy had been restored," he said.

"I was also born in Rameswaram, a coastal area. When I asked my aged parents to stay with me while I was working at Thumba in Tiruvananthapuram, they refused to come saying they were born on the seashore and they would continue to live there," the President told the fisherfolk.

Briefing on rehabilitation
He was briefed through a PowerPoint presentation on the permanent rehabilitation programme for housing, education, fisheries and employment by the Nagapattinam district and State authorities at the Collectorate.

Interacting with the farmers of South Poiganallur at Velankanni, the President said the Confederation of Indian Industry, in coordination with non-governmental organisations, would take steps to improve the soil condition in the tsunami-affected agricultural land. Raising bioplants could revive soil fertility. The Centre and the State Governments were taking steps to improve the soil fertility, he said.

Breaks security cordon
The President broke the security cordon and met people who gathered behind the casuarina barricadeat Velankanni and alighted from his car to interact with a crowd, which caught his attention by blocking his car.

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