Kerala prepares memo seeking more funds

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Kerala prepares memo seeking more funds

PWD says ₹5,815.25 cr. needed to repair roads; over 4 lakh people in relief camps

After a muted Onam, Kerala woke up on Sunday to the enormity of rehabilitation and restoration of normal life devastated by the unprecedented floods in the central districts of the State.

According to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who held a review of the relief and rehabilitation work on Sunday, 4,62,456 persons are still housed in 1,435 relief camps. Over three lakh houses have been cleaned till date.

Apart from the physical challenge of clearing debris, cleaning flood ravaged buildings, sanitation and medical care, the fiscal challenges of handling the post-flood reconstruction are growing, despite a massive inflow of aid to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.

The State has already announced compensation for those affected by the flood. The Public Works Department action plan, presented to the government to restore roads and other damaged infrastructure, puts the cost at ₹5,815.25 crore over the next 18 months.

 The Centre has already released ₹600 crore as advance assistance, with another ₹562.45 crore given to the State Disaster Response Fund. The State government is preparing a memorandum for further assistance after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to Governor P. Sathasivam when the latter called on him on Saturday.Mr. Vijayan also appealed on television to Keralites, both in the country and outside, to contribute a month’s salary over 10 months for the rehabilitation efforts.

With educational institutions scheduled to reopen on August 29 after an advanced Onam vacation, cleaning 700-odd schools submerged by the flood waters poses a major challenge. Most of these schools have lost vital infrastructure.

 The task is particularly daunting in Alappuzha district, where several schools have become relief camps.

The government has asked district collectors to consider shifting the relief camps to other buildings and if necessary rent out private premises. Relief camps in schools and colleges will be wound up and people, whose homes were waterlogged, would be shifted to marriage halls and convention centres, Finance Minister Thomas said.

Even as the cleaning operations continued on Sunday, local bodies have been asked to identify areas for the collection of non-degradable and inorganic waste. A special purpose vehicle, Clean Kerala Company (CKC), has been formed by the government to handle this waste.

Drinking water

Soon after the review meeting, the Chief Minister, in a press note, said special attention will be given to setting up kiosks for distribution of drinking water in the flood-affected areas.

The press note also said carcasses of 3,64,000 fowls, 3,285 large animals and 14,274 small animals were disposed off as per a government advisory.

Steps were also being taken to provide food and fodder to surviving animals and over one lakh sacks of cattle feed have been distributed. With Central assistance likely to fall short given the mammoth task of reconstruction, the Chief Minister and government officials are working to mobilise funds. While the actual requirement of funds is being worked out, experts involved in the planning process at various periods, say the State would require over ₹40,000 crore to restore development levels.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Daily Report and is published from a The Hindu.)

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