EDITORIAL | Return focus to rebuilding Kerala

A view of a flood-affected area in Kochi. PTI

A report prepared by the United Nations, which has assessed the damage suffered by Kerala during the devastating floods in August and proposed some broad strategies for recovery and reconstruction, should form the basis of the state’s efforts in that direction. As many as 76 experts from a number of UN agencies collaborated to prepare the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Report (PDNA). It is for the first time that the UN has prepared such a report for India, and it has been presented to the Kerala government. It has estimated that the state would need about Rs 31,000 crore to rebuild the state’s roads and transportation, housing, employment and livelihood, agriculture and water management. It has highlighted some international examples and models that could help Kerala in formulating its plans. These will have to be drawn up and implemented in the short term and the longer term at various levels. 

The PDNA suggests that Kerala could become the first green state in the country by rebuilding itself on four pillars: eco-sensitive land-use and planning, integrated water resources management, people-centred and inclusive approaches and adoption of knowledge, innovation and technology. These ideas will have to be translated into specific plans at the micro level, perhaps even for individual villages. This will necessarily involve decentralised planning and direct involvement of people. Many proposals are being made now but the most important idea that runs through them is that the rebuilding has to be environment-friendly and should protect the ecology of the region. It may also have to take into consideration the changes likely to be brought about by climate change. The location and construction of houses and building of roads and other infrastructure will need to be based on new rules and regulations. Protection of nature and environment should henceforth be an important consideration in all activities at individual, collective and government levels.  

Mobilisation of financial resources needed for reconstruction will not be easy. The central government has not been very responsive to the state’s requests for aid. it has also prevented the state from receiving aid from other sources. A political frenzy over Sabarimala has now turned attention away from floods and reconstruction. This is unfortunate because the state is facing very serious and immediate challenges relating to livelihood, rebuilding and development. The Kerala model of development had once received much attention. The state now has an opportunity to develop another model, but may have to face more difficult challenges than it has faced in the past.  

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EDITORIAL | Return focus to rebuilding Kerala

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