Thousands come together for massive Kuttanad clean-up

Volunteers use umbrellas to protect from rain as they cross Pampa river to reach to flood-affected areas to clean houses and public places following floods in Kuttanad in Alappuzha, on Tuesday. REUTERS

Thousands of volunteers on Tuesday kicked off a state government-led mass drive to drain floodwater and clean muddied houses and buildings in Kerala’s Kuttanad region, marking a new phase of rehabilitation in the flood-ravaged state.

Over 50,000 volunteers including from other parts of the state are engaged in the three-day clean-up that covers 16 panchayats. The region of Kuttanad, largely spread over the district of Alappuzha, is one of the worst-hit in this month’s floods, where long stretches of paddy fields remain submerged, two weeks after the flooding.

Finance Minister and Alappuzha MLA T M Thomas Isaac said over 500 engineers, students, IT volunteers and snake-catchers from Tamil Nadu were part of the clean-up team. Buses, trucks and hundreds of boats were brought in as volunteers were transported to different parts of the region.

Public Works Minister and Ambalapuzha MLA G Sudhakaran joined volunteers in cleaning floors of houses. The clean-up is likely to continue after August 30 in many severely affected areas including Kainakary and Pulinkunnu.

According to official figures released on Tuesday, of the nearly two lakh people remaining in relief camps in the state, over 1.21 lakh are from Alappuzha district. Of the 750 camps open on Tuesday, 352 are from the district.

1.97 lakh in camps

In other parts of Kerala, the focus shifted further to rehabilitating the affected and rebuilding the state which has seen 322 deaths since August 8 and suffered losses of about Rs 20,000 crore, according to preliminary estimates.

With schools, many of them converted to relief camps, set to reopen, the authorities are also identifying alternative locations to house the inmates.

Relief camps in some of the severely affected areas are likely to remain open for a few more days. Latest official figures said 197,518 people from 53,703 families were in relief camps.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here that the government was expediting disbursal of the interim compensation of Rs 10,000 to families returning to their homes and measures to coordinate the insurance claim payouts.

The chief minister said the government was considering issues regarding rehabilitation of people in areas prone to flooding and landslides.

The Kochi international airport, closed after the flood, is set to resume operations on Wednesday.

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Thousands come together for massive Kuttanad clean-up

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