As Kerala picks up the pieces after being ravaged by unprecedented rain and subsequent flooding earlier this month, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged all Malayalis to donate a month’s salary to rebuild the state. The official death toll in the Kerala floods has now touched 302, and over 4 lakh people are still in 1,435 relief camps.

In districts where cleaning work has been completed, people from camps have started moving to their homes. At least 3 lakh houses have been cleaned so far.

On Sunday, Vijayan reviewed the ongoing relief operations and later expressed gratitude to the various central forces that played a vital role in the relief and rescue operations.

At a formal farewell function to them on Sunday night, the CM handed over citations to the men in uniform. “We could directly witness the bold initiatives they took to rescue those who were stranded in the flood waters,” he said.

A defence spokesperson said teams would continue to support the state authorities in flood-hit areas. A total of 10 Columns and 12 Engineer Task Force of the Army are currently carrying out continuous rescue and relief operations.

The troops are involved in road opening, clearing of landslides and construction of temporary bridges. At least 26 temporary bridges have been constructed till now, while approximately 50 roads repaired and cleared for the public, according to a defence statement.

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Vijayan said Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who had conducted aerial surveys of the affected areas, were touched by the intensity of the devastation and hoped the Centre would provide more funds.

Meanwhile, Kerala Governor P Sathasivam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Saturday and apprised him of the situation in the state. The PM assured Kerala of more central funds from the National Disaster Response Fund and said the Rs 600-crore central aid released so far was only an advance.

In Kuttanad region of the worst-hit Alapuzha district, waterlogging in homes is still a cause for concern. Authorities said huge pumps would be used to flush out the water, after which cleaning process would be undertaken.

Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said more central funds were needed for Kerala, adding that there was nothing wrong in accepting foreign aid.

Vijayan urged Keralites, both in the country and abroad, to exhibit their generous self and contribute one day’s salary to the state. “We need to find our strength. It will be difficult to contribute one month’s salary at a stretch. But Keralites, including from outside, can at first contribute three days’ salary a month and over a period of 10 months, donate the remaining sum,” Vijayan told Malayalam TV channels on Sunday.

In Alapuzha, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told reporters that relief camps in schools and colleges would be wound up and people, whose homes were still fully waterlogged, would be shifted to wedding halls and convention centres.

According to reports, at least 3.64 lakh carcasses of birds and over 17,000 of big animals have been retrieved and buried so far.

(With agency inputs)