Donate one month salary to rebuild Kerala: Pinarayi

Donate one month salary to rebuild Kerala: Pinarayi

Men paddle their boat through the lawns of a partially submerged church at Kuttanad in Alleppey district in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 24, 2018. (Reuters Photo)

As relief and rehabilitation work is on in flood-ravaged Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday urged all Malayalees to donate one month salary to rebuild the state, where the death toll has now touched 302 and over four lakh are still in relief camps.

In many districts, people have started moving from camps to their homes after cleaning work has been completed. The receding flood waters had left mounds of mud and debris in their homes and surroundings.

The toll today climbed to 302 with more bodies being recovered, a government press release here. Vijayan also reviewed ongoing relief operations. There are still 4.62 lakh people in 1,435 relief camps. At least three lakh houses have been cleaned so far.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hailed the humanitarian assistance rendered to victims of Kerala floods by people from all walks of life, saying irrespective of age group or area of work, people are contributing for the cause. He also put on record his appreciation for the role rendered by the Army, Air Force, Navy, NDRF, BSF, CISF and the RAF in relief and rescue operations.

"Yesterday was the festival of Onam. We pray for Onam to provide strength to the country, especially Kerala so that it returns to normalcy on a newer journey of development. Once again on behalf of all Indians, I would like to reassure each and everyone in Kerala and other affected places that at this moment of calamity, the entire country stands by them," Modi said in his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio address.

He said the loss of lives cannot be compensated, but he assured the grief-stricken families that in this moment of suffering, every Indian stands by them shoulder to shoulder.

As Kerala struggles to stand on her feet, waterlogging of homes in various places, especally in Kuttanad region of the worst hitAlapuzha district continues to be a worrying factor.

Huge pumps will be used to flush out water from homes and premises, after which the cleaning process will be taken up by removing the accumulated silt, authorities said. Vijayan, who had accompanied Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during the aerial surveys, said they were touched by the intensity of the devastationand he hoped that the Centre would provide more funds.

The union government has already released Rs 600 crore as immediate assistance against the state's demand for Rs 2,000 crore. Opposition leader in the assembly, Ramesh Chennithala said more central funds were needed for Kerala and there was nothing wrong in accepting foreign aid to help rebuild the state.

With the floods having left a trail of massive destruction and rehabilitation and reconstruction requiring huge financial resources, Vijayan wanted Keralites, both in the country and outside, to exhibit their generous self and contribute one day's salary to the state.

"We need to find our strength. It will be difficult to contribute one month's salary at a stretch. But Keralites, including from outside, can at first contribute three days salary a month and over a period of 10 months, donate the remaining sum', Vijayan told Malayalam TV channels here today.

In the coming days, relief camps in schools and colleges will be wound up and people, whose homes were fully waterlogged even now, would be shifted to marriage halls and convention centres, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told reporters in Alapuzha.

Meanwhile, the defence personnel would continue to support the state authorities in flood-hit areas in relief and rehabilitation initiatives, a spokesperson said. As of date, a total of 10 Columns and 12 Engineer Task Force of the Army are carrying out continuous rescue and relief operations in the area.

Donate here: DH Kerala- Karnataka Relief Fund

The troops are involved in road opening, clearing of landslides and construction of temporary bridges, utilising the natural resources available in the area.

So far approximately 26 temporary bridges have been constructed, repaired and approximately 50roads have been cleared for the general public, a defence press release said. At least 3.64 lakh carcasses of birds and over 17,000 of big animals have been retrieved and buried so far.