The massive floods that hit Kerala in the years 2018 and 2019 caused immense damage to property and the lives of thousands of individuals. Incessant rain and horrific landslides wreaked havoc in the state. In the year 2018, Kerala surpassed this ghastly scenario not merely with the help of the government machinery. It witnessed the coming together of people in the pure pursuit of helping those within one’s own community. The College of Engineering, Trivandrum played a crucial role in the rehabilitation process of those who were largely struck by the unprecedented floods of Kerala. Their role as harbingers of safety still continues, as they have vouched to aid those who have lost their homes and their livelihoods. CET is the nodal agency for the Co-Operative Alliance to Rebuild Kerala (CARe) of Department of Cooperation, Government of Kerala, through which 1500 houses will be constructed in the first phase.
The students of CET, from various different branches, traveled across flood-hit areas to deduce, assess and estimate the losses faced by the identified beneficiaries. Dr Jiji C V, Principal, CET, shared that the students of CET camped at flood affected areas near Pamba, to restore 400 houses, for a time period of three weeks. A comprehensive action plan was formulated to take the rehabilitation work forward. The larger aim of the staff and students at CET was to create a sustainable, reusable and eco-friendly technology that reduces the losses that a victim may have to face at the likelihood of another flood. Their plan includes prefabricated houses, using post-flood debris and modular designs, as stated by Mr. Manoj Kumar, faculty of the Department of Architecture. A consortium of various different colleges such as Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Kottayam and National Institute of Technology, Calicut have been formed and work in the form of clusters. While Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) is the coordinating agency, Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS), COSTFORD and Habitat also are part of the project.
CET’s team works in association with Environmental Protection and Research Council, an NGO actively involved in environmental and sustainability issues in the State, as part of Thettiyar Rejuvenation Programme. The students of CET devised flood mapping and damage assessment survey as a means of assessment of the Amazhinjan canal and Thettiyar of Trivandrum. The MPlanning (Housing) students of CET, in association with COSTFORD are working towards rebuilding the panchayats of Mulakkazha and Cheriyanad, Chengannur in Alappuzha. A pilot study was conducted, through a field survey, upon which necessary and continuous changes are being made, as the damage inflicted varies with the change in topography. The third semester architecture students of CET, guided by their faculty, have neared completion of a flood vulnerability map, based on which strategies were created, of Aduvathuruth ward, Karumalloor Panchayath, Ernakulam, as this area is largely prone to flooding due to it’s unfortunate positioning.
To give back to the society has been the ultimate goal of most CETians, from the past or the present. Keeping up this motto, the 1990 Architecture batch has come with a design approach where the beneficiaries can experiment with shape. The plan is to make houses using the “panel concept.” There will be three panels — a door panel, a window panel and a blank one, 9 x 9 feet and 4 inch thick and made of ferro-cement. They will be framed using mild steel sections with wire gauze mesh. The foundation and roofing will be conventional as per site condition. Alumni members of the batch, both within India and abroad alike are working towards creating a cost-effective and timely technology that will be taken to the public domain. With the objective of helping people get back on their feet, these selfless CETians are joining hands to make the process of restoration less taxing and more efficient. A little over 40 alumni members have come forward voluntarily, of which Abhay and Samith Purackandy will handle the design in Kerala. NRI alumni members such as Shanavas A M, Sajeev M Pillai, Asha Simon, Shaheen Shahnaz and Sindhu Iyer will support through online tools in project management and documentation.
To return to one’s community is the suggestion of one’s own human nature. The humanity of others starts within oneself and it resonates with the philosophy of every CETian. Encouraging the culture of giving and alleviating struggle, the students and alumni of CET set an example of how strengthening those in need reflects within, as the ultimate progress of the self.