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Kerala needs ‘different yardstick’ for help, loss in flood incomparable: CM Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asserted that the state will not be in a position to “mobilise the required resources to bridge the gap, reclaim and rebuild” after the floods on its own.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2018 12:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kerala chief minister,Pinarayi Vijayan,Kerala CM
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan interacts with the flood-affected people at a relief camp in Ernakulam.(PTI File Photo)

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has admitted that his state will not be able to recover from the devastating floods earlier this month on its own, and maintained that the central government use a “different yardstick” to measure the losses suffered by its people.

Listing out the destruction witnessed by the state over the last two weeks, Vijayan stated in an article published in The Hindu on Friday that a preliminary assessment pegs the financial loss at Rs 20,000 crore.

“It, however, goes without saying that the actuals will steadily go up once the water recedes and a final assessment is made. In a nutshell, the size of the loss caused by the calamity is equal to the size of the annual plan that the State has chalked out for 2018-19,” he added.

In the article, titled ‘Stand by us in these testing times’, the chief minister was unequivocal in his assertion that Kerala will not be in a position to “mobilise the required resources to bridge the gap, reclaim and rebuild” on its own. “Since the State is densely populated with an equally complex infrastructure network, the loss suffered by the State is huge in nature and is something that cannot be compared to the damage suffered by any other part of the country at any point of time. Against this backdrop, one can easily come to the conclusion that Kerala requires a different yardstick,” Vijayan said.

The article stated that while 372 lives were lost since the onset of the monsoon, over 26,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed. “Crops spread over 40,000 hectares have been lost. We have lost more than 2 lakh poultry and at least 46,000 milch animals. Floods have washed away many multi-storied buildings, shops and commercial establishments. Several roads have been washed away, and even bridges have collapsed. The power sector has suffered losses of around Rs 750 crore and the water sector’s losses are close to Rs 900 crore,” it said. The temporary closure of the Kochi airport was also mentioned in Vijayan’s article.

Read: Clear and present warning: Kerala floods match climate change forecasts

The chief minister, however, found the proverbial silver lining in the manner in which the people of the state helped his government ensure that thousands of the flood-hit were evacuated and rehabilitated in relief camps. “There are over four thousand relief camps that house nearly 14 lakh people, most of whom have been brought to safety. Though the rescue operations are coming to a close, teams are still vigilant against any possible eventualities,” he added.

Vijayan’s article did not fail to mention the assistance extended by central forces, including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and the National Disaster Response Force. “It was for the first time that such a massive rescue operation of this magnitude was conducted anywhere in India. Synergy between the state forces, local authorities, elected representatives, local people and the central teams was of a unique blend,” it noted, thanking them for all the help.

The chief minister said his government would adopt a two-pronged strategy aimed at reclaiming submerged lands and restoring infrastructural facilities to bring normalcy back to Kerala. “Transcending all barriers, the people of Kerala are joining hands in this effort... Health authorities are taking every precaution to ensure the well being of the people there and to ensure that epidemics do not break out. We are making use of all public sector institutions to create a healthy environment in the affected areas,” he added.

The article wound up with a word of gratitude to the central government for offering Rs 500-crore in interim aid to the state, countries such as Qatar and the UAE that came forward with promises of assistance, and all the other well-wishers who contributed wholeheartedly in Kerala’s hour of need.

This article penned by the chief minister comes at a time when the Centre is under fire from the opposition for handing “inadequate aid” to the state, and barring foreign countries from handing monetary aid directly to the state in keeping with a policy introduced by the erstwhile UPA government.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 12:53 IST