42 dead and 6 missing after floods, landslides: Kerala CM Vijayan

Talking to newsmen in the state capital on Wednesday, Kerala CM Vijayan said 217 houses were destroyed and 1,300 were partially damaged, and the government will do everything possible to alleviate the suffering of the flood-affected.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, currently 3,859 families are staying in 304 relief camps, and the government will expedite relief distribution soon. (KB Jayachandran)
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, currently 3,859 families are staying in 304 relief camps, and the government will expedite relief distribution soon. (KB Jayachandran)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 12:10 AM IST
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By, Thiruvananthapuram

Forty-two people have died due to rains and landslides between October 12 and 20, while six people are missing, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed on Wednesday.

Talking to newsmen in the state capital on Wednesday, Vijayan said 217 houses were destroyed and 1,300 were partially damaged, and the government will do everything possible to alleviate the suffering of the flood-affected.

“Twin low-pressure areas formed in the Arabian and Bay of Bengal aggravated the situation. Time is not ripe to lower our guard as fresh showers are expected. Many dams including Idukki were opened anticipating another wet spell,” he said, adding 11 teams of the Natural Disaster Response Force were camping in different districts.

The chief minister has asked people residing near river basins and hill areas to be extremely vigilant. He said, currently 3,859 families are staying in 304 relief camps, and the government will expedite relief distribution soon.

Vijayan also rejected the opposition charge that rescue operations got delayed at many places. “They are making wild allegations just for the sake of raising charges, and people reject them with contempt,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the assembly adjourned after paying respects to the flood victims. The unseasonal downpour last week has left a trail of death and destruction in Kerala.

Many areas in Wayanad and Thrissur witness heavy downpour and many shifted to relief camps. Wayanad is a landslip prone area and in 2019 it witnessed many landslides. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi represents Wayanad in LS.

RESIDENTS IN AGONY

Tragedy struck small-time farmer P Sebastian (52) in Erumeli (Kottayam) when he was piecing together his life after the 2018 floods, in which he lost everything. He only got an initial relief of 10,000 from the government but managed to rebuild his house after taking soft loans from many. But last Friday, he and his family of four were forced to flee again after gushing water ravaged his newly painted house.

“I don’t know what to do. All furniture and household goods got destroyed. Even my small agricultural plot is now unsuitable for farming. I don’t know how to go ahead,” Sebastian said. Many rain-ravaged people share the same experience and agony. Semi-literate people like Sebastian have no idea about global warming or climate change, but they admit inclement weather has made their lives difficult.

In Kootickal, where the landslide claimed 10 lives on Saturday, the situation is different. Even during the flooding of 2018, dubbed as the flood of the century that claimed 480 lives, this village was untouched.

But on Friday, landslides polished off a part of this scenic village in Kottayam – carved mountains and slushy terrain stand testimony to nature’s fury. “We have been complaining about quarries functioning on the other side of the hills for long. We heard some of them even functioned on the day of the landslide. In 2013, the state biodiversity board had recommended that quarrying should be stopped here but nobody listened to it,” M P Chandradas, a resident who approached the court against these quarries, said.

“Most of these disasters are man-made. Around 200 quarries are functioning illegally in three districts, Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta. Now the government is also thinking about a hill highway project. It’s another ploy to plunder natural wealth,” said John Pervanthanam, a conservation activist, adding that the state is yet to learn from the past calamities.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the state received 135 per cent excess rain during the period from Oct to 19. The usual rainfall during this period was 192.7 mm, but this time actual fall was 453.5 mm. Though the IMD issued a yellow alert in 11 districts, it was reduced to three, Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Kottayam, later.

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Friday, May 20, 2022