Clean-up operations gather steam in flood-hit Kerala 

 A man cleans up his house after flood water subsided, in Puthenvelikkara near Kochi. PTI photo

With flood waters receding from most of the places, the Kerala government has taken up the massive task of cleaning houses and public places filled with slush left behind by the massive deluge that claimed 231 lives, besides causing large-scale destruction.

The government has set up a control room here to coordinate the cleaning process across the state and the civic bodies have been entrusted with the task of managing the work, official sources said today.

Haritha Kerala Mission, a mission integrating waste management, organic farming and water resources management, would also coordinate the cleaning process. It will deploy 50 high-power pump sets in different areas by tomorrow.

Teams drawn from different areas, including electricians and plumbers, have also been deployed. They would work along with more than 50,000 volunteers to clean houses and public places filled with slush and debris dumped by the floods, officials said.

As water level has receded, people have started returning home. However, more than 13.43 lakh people are still lodged in 3,520 camps across the southern state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had held a series of review meetings and monitored the rescue operations during the period of crisis, will visiting different relief camps across the state today.

The Kerala Water Authority has taken steps to supply drinking water in affected areas, Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas said.

Of the 1,089 water supply schemes affected due to the floods, more than 800 have started functioning, he said, adding efforts were on to make others also functional.

Even as relief materials and donations to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) pour in, a political row has erupted over accepting foreign aid.

The CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state said foreign aid should be accepted, even as there were reports that the Centre was unlikely to accept the same.

The issue surfaced after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government offered USD 100 million (around Rs 700 crore) for flood relief works in Kerala.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said yesterday that there were no obstacles to receive foreign aid as per the National Disaster Management (NDM) Policy 2016 announced by the Centre.

He had also said that if there were any hurdles, the state would approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear them.

Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said though the NDM Policy did not put a ban on accepting foreign aid, the Centre has chosen to adopt a "negative stance" to the offer made by the UAE government and it should compensate the state.

"We made no request to any foreign gov but UAE gov voluntarily offer 700cr. No, says Union gov, it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy," he tweeted.

The state's estimated loss in the deluge is Rs 20,000 crore (as per a preliminary estimate). It had sought an interim assistance of Rs 2,600 crore from the Centre, besides a special package of a similar amount under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government was also drawn into another controversy after the opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP alleged that opening of shutters of 44-odd dams without any precaution and warning was the reason for the massive floods the state witnessed.

However, Vijayan rejected the charges and said the floods and landslides were due to non-seasonal heavy rains experienced by the state from August 8, and not due to the opening of shutters of dams.

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Clean-up operations gather steam in flood-hit Kerala 

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