After huge relief from rains, Kerala to now focus on rehabilitation
Thiruvananthapuram: Torrential rain finally let up in flood-hit Kerala , giving some respite for thousands of marooned families even as 13 more deaths were reported, taking the toll to 210 in the last 10 days. The authorities now fear an outbreak of disease among the 7.25 lakh people crammed into relief camps.
Around 22,000 people were rescued in the operations launched by the defence personnel, national and state disaster response forces, fishermen and local people.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast heavy rainfall in only one or two parts of Kerala on Sunday and withdrew a red alert in several districts.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who reviewed the rescue operations at a high-level meeting, said most of the marooned had been rescued and the focus would now be on their rehabilitation.
He said the total number of people taking refuge at the 5,645 relief camps has risen to 7.25 lakh.
Mr Vijayan also appealed to people not to send misleading messages to the control rooms. There have been instances of people sending such messages which were hampering the operations on the ground.
Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at Kerala’s health department, said the authorities have isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, nearly 250 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps.
The most important task is to make safe drinking water available. The pipelines that got snapped will be fixed and power supply which has been cut in many parts will have to be restored after taking measures to prevent mishaps.
“At the moment the priority will be to restore street lights and water pumping stations. Local bodies will conduct a preliminary examination of the houses in each ward to ensure there is no danger,” said an official.
The chief minister said in each panchayat six health officers would be deployed to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes.
A sub-committee comprising additional chief secretary, health, and additional chief secretary, local bodies, will monitor all activities including health care, sanitation, cleanliness and waste management. Fire force will be engaged in cleaning up the slush in affected areas.
President Ram Nath Kovind spoke to Kerala governor P. Sathasivam and the chief minister and enquired about the situation.
“Assured the people of the state that entire nation was with them,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday undertook an aerial survey of monsoon ravaged areas and announced an immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore. The state government had sought an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore citing a loss of Rs 19,512 crore.
There was respite from the rains in most parts of the state on Sunday after nearly two weeks of virtually non-stop downpour that has caused the deadliest deluge in the state close to a century has claimed 210 lives since August 8 and nearly 373 since May 29 when the south west monsoon set in over Kerala. More than 80 dams were opened, leading to floods while the rains also triggered landslides. High-range Idukki district, Malappuram and Thrissur are among the worst-hit.
Commercial flight operations from Kochi, hit following the closure of its international airport due to flooding, would resume on Monday from the naval airport to Coimbatore and Bengaluru, bringing some relief to travellers.
The railways cancelled at least 18 trains, partially cancelled nine others and diverted Kanyakumari-Mumbai CST express train via Nagercoil on Sunday.
As per a preliminary estimate, the state has suffered a loss of Rs 4,441 crore due to damage to roads and bridges. At least 220 bridges have been damaged and 59 are still under water, officials said.