483 Dead in Kerala Floods, Total Loss More Than Annual Plan Outlay: Pinarayi Vijayan

During a special session of the assembly, Kerala chief minister cautioned that while rebuilding the state, the environmental impact of reconstruction should be assessed.

New Delhi: At the one-day special assembly session on Thursday for discussing the Kerala deluge and the relief and rehabilitation measures that are being conducted to aid the affected people, the state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the House that 483 people had died in flood-related incidents and 14 are still missing.

Excessive rainfall, floods and landslides have destroyed roads, bridges, buildings and houses, forcing a large part of the state’s population to take shelter in relief camps. According to an Indian Express report, Vijayan said that on August 21, at the height of the floods, a total of 14.5 lakh people belonging to 3.91 lakh families had to be rushed to nearby relief camps.

“The latest figure is there are 59,296 people in 305 relief camps,” he said, adding that rescue operations have ended, rehabilitation is underway and “rebuilding of the state is left.” A sum of Rs 10,000 will be offered to each family who had to take refuge in these camps. The chief minister, adding a word of caution, said: “while doing reconstruction, bear in mind its environmental impact.”

According to a News Minute report, Vijayan said that going forward, the most crucial factor was finding the funds. “We saw a huge response for the suggestion that people donate a month’s salary to the distress relief fund,” he said.

The state chief minister, who deferred his scheduled trip to the US for medical treatment to lead the rehabilitation exercise, said that total estimated loss due to the disaster has surpassed Kerala’s annual plan outlay – Rs 26,500 crore for 2017-18 fiscal year – with a large number of small and medium-scale enterprises seriously affected. The state’s agricultural production has also suffered with 57,000 hectares of crops being destroyed.

The chief minister said that even as the Meteorological Department had given adequate warning about the rains, unprecedented showers led to the deluge.

The predicted rains from August 9-15 were 98.5 mm but the state received 352.2 mm of rainfall, Vijayan said.

Senior Congress MLA and KPCC vice-president V.D. Satheesan, whose constituency Paravur in the Ernakulam district was submerged in flood and dam waters, hit out at the government, calling the deluge a “man-made tragedy,” and demanding the need to “fix responsibility.”

“This is not a natural calamity, instead a man-made tragedy due to the faulty handling of the dam water management. Dams in the state were overflowing and the primary reason for this tragedy is the way the dam waters were indiscriminately let out,” he said.

K.M. Mani, a veteran opposition legislator, applauded the rescue efforts but said the tragedy could have been avoided had there been a proper dam management policy.

“Now that the tragedy is over, rehabilitation work has to take a systematic approach,” he said.

(With agency inputs)