National

More people leave relief camps; cleaning in high gear

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 26 (IANS) | Publish Date: 8/26/2018 11:24:40 AM IST

More and more people on Sunday quit various relief camps in flood-battered Kerala and returned to tidy up their once submerged homes.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that 1,435 relief shelters were still operating, housing a total of 462,456 people, down from 6.05 lakh people in 1,822 camps on Saturday.

Vijayan said that with schools and educational institutions set to open from August 29, all camps in such places should be moved to other buildings.

On Sunday, while a large number of camps in the northern districts were wound up, the shelters continued to function in southern districts like Chengannur, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Thrissur.

Saji Cherian, a CPI-M legislator from Chengannur, told the media that while a good number of people returned to their home on Sunday, the last of the inmates would be back in their houses by September 1.

Congress legislators Anwar Sadat and V.D. Sateeshan insisted that there should be no forcible move to close the relief camps.

According to figures provided by the Kerala government, Sunday saw 16,255 volunteers cleaning 14,485 homes and 254 public establishments including roads in the flood-ravaged districts.

Governor P. Sathasivama’s Office quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying that the financial mechanism to meet the rescue and relief operations during any notified disaster was governed by the guidelines on the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund.

State Congress President M.M. Hassan said Congress President Rahul Gandhi would visit the flood affected districts on August 28 and 29.

“The state unit of the Congress with the help of sponsors will construct 1,000 new houses,” he said, and demanded that the immediate assistance of Rs 10,000 announced by the Kerala government should be hiked to Rs 25,000.

Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 417 people have died. The flood fury has also caused unprecedented destruction and, at one point, forced more than one million people to take shelter in relief camps.

Idukki has gone 

back by 40 years: Mani 

The hilly district of Idukki has been thrown back by 40 years following Kerala’s worst flooding in a century, Power Minister M.M. Mani said on Sunday. “What our forefathers built in the past 100 years to take Idukki to where it was has been washed away. Idukki has gone back by 40 years,” the Marxist leader told the media.

This is one of the worst disasters Idukki has witnessed, he lamented.

Long considered home to settlers, the main occupation in Idukki is farming. But with its numerous hills and treacherous terrain, life has never been easy in the district. 

Idukki is also home to some of the major dams which, when their sluice gates were opened after their water level came to the choking points, caused unprecedented destruction all over the state this month.

Idukki received one of its highest rainfalls starting from the end of May till the middle of August. This pushed up the water levels in the Idukki, Mulaperiyar and other dams.

For the first time in 26 years, the shutters of the Idukki dam were opened, causing a deluge.

“This is the worst destruction I have seen,” said Mani, who is from the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

So bad is the situation that to reach the state capital Thiruvananthapuram from Idukki, Mani had to take a detour through the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu as the main link road linking Idukki and Thiruvananthapuram has been damaged.

Mani came under severe attack from the opposition for faulty dam water management but he insisted that all rules were followed.

 

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