The worst is over: Kerala shifts focus to rehabilitation, rebuilding flood-hit areas

Over five lakh people that have returned to their flood-hit homes face the daunting tasks of repairing their residences, removing the sludge and evicting reptiles, especially poisonous snakes, that may have crept in.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 13:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala floods,Kerala,Kerala news
Flood affected children walk to brush their teeth before having a meal at a relief camp set up inside a school in Kochi, Kerala.(AP Photo)

With some people returning home as flood waters recede but lakhs still in relief camps, the Kerala government is now taking up the task of cleaning up after the worst disaster in the state in a century, and rehabilitating the affected.

Over five lakh people that have returned to their flood-hit homes face the daunting tasks of repairing their residences, removing the sludge and evicting reptiles, especially poisonous snakes, that may have crept in.

However, more than 10.40 lakh people were still in 2,770 camps across the state as their homes were destroyed or are still in inundated areas.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who visited various relief camps in the badly-affected Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur districts on Thursday, has said that government’s focus was now on rehabilitating the affected people and rebuilding the state.

A huge sanitation drive was on and more than 37,000 wells and 60,000 houses were cleaned, he said, while animal carcasses were being buried to prevent spread of disease.

Vijayan said people residing in disaster-prone areas would be shifted to a suitable location after due consultation, while plans were underway to provide interest-free bank loans to repair flood-hit houses.

“Let us celebrate Onam festival by providing relief and help to the flood-affected people,” he said, ahead of the harvest festival falling on Saturday.

Meanwhile, people from all over the country and abroad have pitched in to help the state by offering material and also cash donations to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF), which had received a total of Rs 539 crore till Thursday night, official sources said, reported PTI.

According to the official sources, cleaning of public places and houses would be done by end of this week, adding special squads have been formed at the ward level to co-ordinate the work.

The state government also announced a package of Rs 2.5 crore for repairing fishing vessels of the over 3,500 fishermen who took part in flood relief work between August 15-20 and saved nearly 65,000 people, as per state Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma.

The Indian Air Force on Friday said it is engaged in providing medical facilities to the affected people in relief camps, with its teams treating over 1,600 people in 26 camps. It has also set up a 10-bed mobile hospital and a Rapid Action Medical Team at Chetankery near Pathanamthitta’s Thiruvala.

Indian Railways meanwhile have transported over 20 lakh litres of water in special water wagons, besides also arranging around two lakh bottles of water to flood affected people.

The heavy rains and flooding has claimed over 200 lives since August 8 in the second spell of the monsoon, while the state has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 20,000 crore, as per preliminary estimates.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 13:41 IST