With the sun finally out in the sky, Kerala is gearing up to pick up the pieces after torrential rains and resultant floods left the state devastated killing hundreds of people and leaving a trail of destruction. According to the India Meteorological Department, the state will not witness heavy rains in the coming days, which will give it a chance to pick up relief efforts.
The Kerala government informed the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Monday that the floodwaters had started receding with the rains abating.
The information was shared at a NCMC review meeting in New Delhi — the fifth since August 16 — chaired by Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha.
With floodwater level receding in many places, people have started returning to their homes and started cleaning operations. The state government has decided to distribute cleaning kits.
The government has called an all-party meeting at 4 pm in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday to review the situation.
On 20 August, the Centre declared the devastating floods in Kerala a “calamity of severe nature” as the state braced for the gigantic task of reconstructing the destroyed infrastructure and rehabilitating lakhs of people rendered homeless.
“Keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides in Kerala, this is a calamity of a severe nature for all practical purposes,” a home ministry official said in New Delhi on Monday.
This categorisation will enable the state get greater monetary and other assistance from the Centre.
As per government estimates, 845 houses, 123 km of roads, 58 bridges, 278 state-owned buildings and 3,800 electric poles have been destroyed.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said 223 people had lost their lives since August 8.
“Over 10.78 lakh displaced people, including 2.12 lakh women and one lakh children below 12 years of age, have been sheltered in 3,200 relief camps.Today, 602 persons were rescued from various places as the rains receded,” he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
“As per preliminary estimates, the state has so far suffered a loss of nearly Rs 20,000 crore. The Union government has so far rendered all help to the state. Kerala received Rs 210 crore towards the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund and a promise of Rs 160 crore,” he added.
K Santosh, Director at IMD’s Thiruvananthapuram centre, said all alerts had been withdrawn and the state experienced only light to moderate rainfall on Monday. Similar precipitation has been forecast for the next five days.
Efforts were now under way to clear the houses of the debris to make them habitable, officials said, underscoring the need for making available disinfectants like bleaching powder in adequate quantities to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases.
Vijayan earlier said in a Facebook post that Kerala was striving together as one to overcome the “catastrophic” floods with “monumental strength”.
Referring to some messages being circulated on social media denigrating the relief efforts by the government, he said anyone trying to “pull us down will face serious consequences”.
The Kerala Water Authority and the Kerala State Electricity Board are trying to restore water and power supply in vast areas that have been without power and tap water for the last several days.
Relief material, including provisions, water and fuel have started arriving at the Kochi port from different parts of the country.
The BJP-led government in Tripura has joined other states in lending a helping hand and said it would donate Rs 1 crore for the relief work in the flood-ravaged state.
“The council of ministers in its meeting today (Monday) decided to donate Rs one crore for the relief of the flood-affected people of Kerala,” Education and Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath told the media.
(With agency inputs)