Tsunami victims relive painful memories of tragedy



Chennai: It has been six years since tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast, leaving more than 8,000 people dead, injuring thousands and rendering many homeless but the memories of the horrid day still bring tears in the eyes of the bereaved families.

The 2004 tsunami was triggered by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake, off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, causing one of the country's biggest post-independence natural calamities.

In Nagapattinam, the worst-hit in Tamil Nadu, where giant waves claimed over 6,000 lives and rendered about a lakh homeless in the district, painful memories of the tsunami still linger, but people have moved on.

During the past six years, Government, NGOs and various voluntary organisations pumped in crores of money towards rehabilitation of the affected people.

Children of tsunami-hit coastal areas of the state now have access to high quality English medium education, which was absent earlier, while the youth have taken up entrepreneurial ventures.

According to NGO volunteers engaged in rehabilitation of the affected, about 40 per cent of the women of tsunami-hit areas have become entrepreneurs and are making products such as footwear, leather articles, pickles and coir products.

Many other women have embarked on modern fish marketing activities, tailoring, mobile canteens, handicrafts making and even driving and masonry.

Besides formation of self-help groups have also helped the district's economy to grow.

A study conducted by Rejuvenate India Movement (RIM), an NGO, more than eight tsunami-hit villages in Tarangambadi taluk of Nagapattinam district has revealed a remarkable improvement in the learning skills of tsunami-hit students.

Top multinational companies have started English medium schools. Consumer electronics giant Samsung India has opened a school at Chinnangudi village near Tarangmabadi.

In Chennai, about 500 residents of Odai Kuppam and Odai Managar at Besant Nagar here offered prayers and thronged the Elliots Beach on the sixth anniversary of the tsunami.

About 500 women at the Marina here took out a "milk-pot" procession and later poured the milk in the sea as a mark of respect for the departed.

Candle-light march and memorial service were also held. Fishermen stayed away from the sea as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives on 26 December, 2004.

A section of fishermen alleged that they were yet to get the complete compensation and relief package announced by the Central and state governments.

PTI