Congress president Rahul Gandhi drew the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to flood-ravaged Kerala in a letter in which he highlighted the destruction across the state due to heavy downpour which has been described as “unprecedented”.
Describing the calamity as the “most severe disaster to have struck the state in the last five decades”, Gandhi requested the Prime Minister to help the state government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
“I request you to release sufficient funds immediately to the State government, to enable the state to respond effectively, and work towards restoring critical infrastructure,” he wrote.
The 48-year-old Congress chief said that the torrential rains, floods and wide scale landslides have resulted in massive economic and human losses.
“It has already claimed over 150 lives in the past month, and 25 people were killed in a single flash flood alone,” wrote Gandhi adding that hilly and coastal districts have bore the bore extensive damage.
“The incessant rains have forced the state to open the shutters of 24 dams, and the resultant deluge is likely to cause massive destruction in downstream areas,” he said.
Gandhi pointed out that the fishermen, who are yet to recover from the adverse impact of the Ockhi cyclone that ravaged parts of the state in December 2017, “this disaster has dealt a deadly blow”.
While thousands of hectares of cultivated land are underwater, critical public infrastructure too has been destroyed.
“At this juncture, it is critical to acknowledge the looming humanitarian crisis facing Kerala,” write Gandhi.
“I am hopeful that the Government of India would cooperate with the state government in the massive relief and rehabilitation efforts underway,” he added.
Earlier today, Gandhi urged Congress workers in Kerala to help affected people in need.
“Unprecedented rainfall has created havoc in Kerala, destroying property and forcing thousands to abandon their homes. I urge each and every Congress worker in Kerala to step up and help those in need. My prayers and thoughts are with the people of Kerala in this difficult time,” he said.
At least 29 people have died and nearly 54,000 people rendered homeless since 8 August as Kerala continues to experience unprecedented rainfall in its history.
On Saturday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 10 lakh compensation to those who lost their houses and land.
Thousands living around the Idukki dam and in Ernakulam and Thrissur heaved a sigh of relief as heavy rains spared Kerala. As a result, the Idukki dam waters ravaging the area over the last few days subsided.
ldukki, Wayanad, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Kozhikode are among the worst affected regions of the state.
The water level at the Idukki dam was now at 2,401 feet after it came down on Friday night as the intensity of the rains decreased.
Officials said almost all 40-odd rivers in the state were in spate. A red alert has been issued as dam reservoirs and rivers are overflowing. Sections of highways and homes have been swept away in severe flooding in more than half of Kerala.
Five columns of Army have been deployed in the state’s seven severely-hit northern districts to help evacuate people and build makeshift bridges.
The Indian Navy’s Southern Command was put on alert Friday after water level in Periyar river rose. There was concern that parts of Wellingdon Island in Kochi could be inundated.