Cyclone-hit Kerala seeks Rs 7,340-cr relief from Centre

Cyclone-hit Kerala seeks Rs 7,340-cr relief from Centre
The Kerala government on Tuesday sought from the Centre a comprehensive relief package of Rs 7,340 crore in the aftermath of cyclone Ockhi. A  government delegation under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi details of the package during a meeting called to assess damage and review rehabilitation measures. The Chief Minister's Office said the prime minister responded favourably to the request.

Earlier, Modi visited the coastal hamlet of Poonthura near here and interacted with families of the deceased and untraced fishermen. Promising all assistance from the Centre in reviving livelihoods of the affected families, Modi said search and rescue operations would continue with the same vigour to ensure that the fishermen returned home before Christmas. "There are reports that some of them could have reached  the shores of neighbouring countries. The MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) is coordinating with embassies there for any possible information regarding them," he said.

At the review meeting, the prime minister said the Centre would study a report compiled by the state government which highlighted lapses in informing  the state well ahead of the cyclonic storm which formed over Arabian Sea on November 30. As part of the relief package, the state has sought Rs 60 crore for enhancing early warning systems. Ockhi has led to the death of 71 people in the state while about 200 fishermen are reported missing. The government has sought assistance in rebuilding and reinforcing safety systems on the state's 590-km coastline.

The relief package covers costs in rehabilitation of the kin of the deceased, reviving livelihoods of  injured fishermen and education and vocational training for children of the deceased. The government has sought Rs 3,003 crore to provide housing for the fisher community. Official estimates put the number of houses damaged or destroyed in the impact of the cyclone at 3,474. The package also envisages programmes beyond the scope of disaster relief, including proposals for fisheries technical high schools, marine skill development institutes and tourism promotion.

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