File photo: Police volunteers help people ride a boat during the flood at Chengalayi, in Kannur district of Kerala, India, on Thursday, August 8, 2019.(HT Photo)
File photo: Police volunteers help people ride a boat during the flood at Chengalayi, in Kannur district of Kerala, India, on Thursday, August 8, 2019.(HT Photo)

Man who lost house in Kerala floods commits suicide over alleged delay in getting aid

Sanal Kumar’s house was partially damaged in 2018 floods and was destroyed completely during last year’s floods and landslips.
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By Ramesh Babu
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2020 04:58 PM IST

A man who lost his house and land in devastating Kerala floods committed suicide in Wayanad on Tuesday. His relatives alleged that he was fed up with the delay in getting relief after repeatedly visiting the government offices.

The body of Sanal Kumar (40), who was a native of Meppadi, was found hanging at the make-shift tent by his relatives. His home, built on a small plot of land, was partially damaged in 2018 floods and was completely destroyed during last year’s floods and landslips.

Kumar’s friends said he had made so many rounds to various government offices but failed to get even the initial payment of Rs 10,000 - which is given to flood victims - due to “official apathy”. Kumar is survived by his wife and two children.

Later, angry local residents prevented his body to be taken out for post-mortem and insisted on the presence of revenue officials. Vythiri tehsildar Abdul Hamid rushed to his house, ordered speedy disbursal of relief to relatives and promised action against officials.

“A life was wasted due to official apathy. If officials had intervened earlier, a life would not have been lost,” said P Reveendran, an activist from the area.

Kumar relatives alleged that some revenue officials had sought bribe for setting his land records right.

His death surfaced at a time when Kerala government was celebrating the handing over of 2 lakh houses to the landless. The government has sought a report from the district collector. The Congress party had boycotted the house allotment function last week saying some of the houses were built during its regime.

The BJP also cried foul claiming that half of the funds came from the PM’s ‘Awas Yojana’ and no credit was given to the union government.

Kalpetta MLA and CPI-M leader C K Saseendran said Kumar had faced some difficulties in producing the land records so he was not included in the latest housing scheme. He claimed that he was promised that his name would be included in the next list.

“It was an unfortunate incident. In the first instalment, houses were allotted to those who had proper land records,” he said. Congress party has sought an investigation into the circumstances which led to his death. Party leader Rahul Gandhi is representing the parliament seat from north Kerala.

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