Centre declares Kerala floods a ‘calamity of severe nature’
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Centre declares Kerala floods a ‘calamity of severe nature’

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has pegged the value of losses during Kerala floods at roughly Rs 19,200 crore — nearly a fifth of what the state spent the entire year in 2017-18.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2018 20:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
kerala floods 2018,kerala flood situation,kerala floods affected areas
An aerial view of flooded areas of Kerala, on Monday. (PTI photo)

The Centre on Monday declared the Kerala floods a ‘calamity of severe nature’, amid demands for declaring it a national disaster.

It also told the Kerala High Court that there was no legal provision to declare a disaster as a national calamity, news agency PTI reported.

“Keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides in Kerala, this is a calamity of a severe nature for all practical purposes,” a home ministry official said in New Delhi.

In an affidavit filed before the court in a response to a petition seeking the floods be termed a national disaster, the Centre said it has treated the flood situation in Kerala as a ‘Disaster of Serious Nature’ and has categorised the same as ‘L3 Level of Disaster’ under the National Disaster Management Guidelines.

“It is submitted that there is no provision in statutes or manuals to declare a disaster as a ‘national calamity’, howsoever big it may be.

“It is only an expression used in general parlance,” it said.

Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress had wanted the Centre to declare the floods a ‘national disaster’.

The floods were triggered by 10 days of an unusually heavy bout of rainfall in the state, taking the death toll to 239. More than 700,000 people were taken to 5,645 relief camps, according to figures released by the state government. Dozens of helicopters have been dropping tonnes of food, medicine and water over areas cut off due to damaged roads and bridges.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has pegged the value of losses at roughly Rs 19,200 crore — nearly a fifth of what the state spent the entire year in 2017-18. According to state disaster management officials, more than 10,000 kilometres of roads and bridges have been damaged.

The Cochin International Airport has been flooded, and officials believe it would take weeks to start functioning again.

On the bright side, help has been pouring in from places across the world. Several state governments have pledged crores in financial assistance, and NGOs have been collecting essential items for use rain-ravaged Kerala. Non-resident Indians and Gulf nations have also stepped forward to offer financial aid. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier announced a Rs 500-crore financial package for Kerala, an offer that his detractors claimed was grossly inadequate.

According to officials, staving off disease outbreaks is of paramount interest in the coming days. Anil Vasudevan, a Kerala health department official, was quoted by news agency Reuters as saying that three people with chickenpox have already been quarantined at a relief camp in Aluva.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 19:45 IST