Kerala picks up threads, faces big rebuilding challenge

Kerala picks up threads, faces big rebuilding challenge

People marooned at a damaged road in a flood-hit area in Thrissur district in Kerala on Monday. Coast Guard Photo via PTI

Kerala made its first steps out of floodwaters on Monday as the state government charted measures to revive health management systems and coordinated relief that continued to pour in from different parts of the world.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said mobilising resources to rebuild the state after the floods was a massive challenge. The state estimates a preliminary loss of about Rs 20,000 crore. “The Centre has pointed out technical reasons in not declaring this a national disaster. What is needed now is finding resources to address the losses,” he said.

The death toll between August 8 and 20 is 223. Over 10.2 lakh people are housed in 3,274 relief camps in the state. Among evacuees who are living in the camps, more than one lakh are children aged under 12 years. The number of people rescued on Monday had come down to 602, from over 82,000 on August 17, showing that the situation had eased considerably, the chief minister said. “The numbers show that the rescue operation is nearing completion but it won’t stop till everyone is rescued,” he said.

Though water started receding in affected areas, many people remained in camps. Health Minister K K Shailaja said a control room would coordinate functioning of relief camps across the state. “Many primary health centres have been damaged in the floods. Temporary centres are being put together as replacement,” she told reporters here.

Doctors and nurses from other parts of the country have come forward to extend services in the affected areas. The minister said the Social Justice Department would take lead in addressing the mental trauma and stress of people housed in relief camps.

Rescue operations continued in some parts of Chengannur in Alappuzha district. Pathanamthitta district, one of the worst-hit regions, was returning to normalcy, district collector P B Nooh said. Most of the affected districts reported a demand for volunteers in cleaning work as more evacuees started returning to their homes. Many collectives offered free cleaning services, equipment including boots, masks and gloves and cleaning chemicals. More long-distance train and bus services resumed on Monday.

The state government faces a stiff challenge of restoring drinking water supplies in the affected regions. Snake bites were also reported in some of the affected areas.

The state government is set to honour fishermen who were engaged in rescue operations, at an event on August 29. The chief minister urged people to tone down celebrations during the festive season and reiterated calls to contribute to the relief fund.