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Kerala floods: People return to devastated homes, CM to visit relief camps today

The Kerala government has turned its attention to rehabilitating people with the rescue operations in the affected areas nearing a close.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2018 11:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kochi and New Delhi
Kerala floods,Kerala rains,Kerala flood
An excavator removes muck caused due to recent floods on the banks of Periyar river, on the outskirts of Kochi in Kerala. (AP Photo)

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will conduct a review of relief camps in Chengannur, Kozhencherry, Alappuzha, North Paravoor and Chalakudy on Thursday as people in other areas of the flood-ravaged state are slowly making way to their homes.

The government has turned its attention to rehabilitating people with the rescue operations in the affected areas nearing a close. Chief minister Vijayan has said 13.43 lakh people were still in 3,314 relief camps across the state, which was hit by the worst floods in a century that killed hundreds of people.

Experts have said it will take at least a decade for the state to recover from the massive devastation caused by the floods from the onset of the monsoon. Kerala is facing a loss of Rs 19,512 crore and the Centre, which has classified the floods as a “calamity of severe nature”, and several states have announced aid from their relief funds.

Watch: Scenes of devastation as water recedes in Kerala after floods

The central government has already announced Rs 600 crore in aid, and also assured relief materials including food grain, medicines would be provided, as requested.

A political row over accepting foreign aid also erupted. The state government has said such aid should be accepted but the Centre made it clear it won’t accept cash donation from foreign countries as per a long-standing policy.

Vijayan said his government would approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if needed, to get the offer of Rs 700 crore-aid by the United Arab Emirates cleared.

The Congress party’s state unit said the reports that the Centre was unlikely to accept foreign donations made in cash were disappointing and urged the Centre to reconsider as rejecting the aid will send the wrong signal to the country where more than 600,000 Indians are employed.

The state government has drawn flak from the opposition, which alleged it was a man-made disaster as people were not warned in advance about the opening of dam shutters before the rains submerged half the state, a charge Vijayan denied.

The Indian Navy stopped its 14-day-long rescue operations on Wednesday, saying there were no more requests for evacuation.

Kerala also saw its traditional amity as a mosque opened for distressed Hindus, and Muslims cleaned temples -- all of which bore the brunt of the monsoon over the last fortnight.

Tales of distress and despair also continued to pour in from different parts as many found their homes filled with huge mounds of mud and dirt left by the receding flood waters.

A 68-year-old man committed suicide in Kothad in Ernakulam district as he was shocked over the state of his home. A teenager from Kozhikode had committed suicide earlier after his certificates were destroyed in the floods.

Officials said flight operations from flood-hit Kochi international airport, which has remained closed for more than a week, will resume from August 29, instead of August 26, as it would require more time to mobilise the workforce, most of whom had been affected by the floods.

Vijayan thanked the Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli for remembering the flood victims and said his government will honour the defence personnel who took part in the rescue operations on August 26.

The chief minister said the government will stand together with people and help in rebuilding their lives.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 10:10 IST