Floods effects may spill over to polls in Kerala

A luxury car damaged in the floods that hit Kerala last year lies abandoned on the Aaranmula-Chengannur road.

For 75-year-old Saraswathi Amma of Pandanad at Chengannur in Kerala, 'sky is the limit' of her kitchen as the roof damaged in floods last year is yet to be restored.

Even eight months after the floods, hundreds of families in various parts of Kerala are yet to recover from the damages caused. The impact of this is now spilling over to the Lok Sabha campaign too with the Congress accusing the Left Front government of alleged lapses in flood rehabilitation and the Left front accusing BJP government at centre for lack of support and blocking assistance from abroad.

Pandanad, situated on the banks of holy Pamba river, in Alappuzha district of South Kerala, was one of the worst flood-hit areas with hundreds of houses remaining under water for days. While most families at least managed to make their houses liveable by now, still there are many like Saraswathi Amma, who even could not make their houses liveable.

A portion of the kitchen of her tile-roofed house was entirely damaged. "Owing to the meagre assistance received from the government, it is not possible to reconstruct the damaged portion alone as the whole house can fall any time," the septuagenarian told DH as her eyes became wet.

Many other natives of Pandanad, like Kamalamma and Ammini, have similar woes to share.

People of Aranmula, another nearby area that was severely hit by the floods, is also quite upset over insufficient help from the government.

"We appreciate government's rescue initiatives though fishermen and military personnel did the work. But the majority of the people here only received the exgratia of Rs. 10,000. Even the traditional Aranmula mirror industry that has historical significance did not get government support for revival," says Aranmula native S Hari.

A section of voters at flood-affected areas of Kainakary in Alappuzha already decided to keep off from polls in protest against lapses in rehabilitation.

Chengannur former MLA Sobhana George,  a Congress turned Left front member, said that though a majority of the flood victims got some assistance at least, there are many deserving who did not get any assistance. This was due to technical reasons. Many were not aware of the damage assessment process. They hold local body representatives responsible for this. Somewhere it is Congress and somewhere CPM. So both parties might face an impact in the elections as many voters could even opt for NOTA, she said.

Chengannur area comes under Mavelikkara constituency from where Congress MP Kodikunnil Suresh is seeking a seventh term. Aranmula is under Pathanamthitta where BJP hopes to open its account from Kerala.

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