A team led by federal Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju toured various flood-hit districts of Kerala yesterday and announced compensation of Rs400,000 each to the families of the dead after heavy rains battered the state over the past two weeks.
Just after his arrival in Kochi, the minister told reporters that the compensation package would be based on prescribed guidelines.
“When a calamity occurs, the central government and state jointly work and both pool in their resources. We already have cleared Rs80 crore on Friday,” he said, before he and his team took an aerial survey of Alappuzha, the worst-affected district.
They then moved to neighbouring Kottayam visiting the rain-hit areas and several relief camps.
Rijiju was accompanied by federal Minister of State for Tourism K J Alphons, who hails from the state, besides Kerala Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar, PWD Minister G Sudhakaran, Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose and local legislators.
“We visited the affected areas besides several relief camps. While we are happy with the relief camps and the facilities, the damages caused are too much. During a calamity, it’s a practice where both the state and the Centre work together. We are capable of handling the situation. For the deceased, Rs4 lakh would be given,” Rijiju said.
At a relief camp in Kottayam, Rijiju returned to speak to the inmates after some of them angrily noted the minister did not interact with them.
The minister also announced that long-term measures would also be undertaken to deal with the situation and would be worked out by a team of experts drawn from various departments.
“It was on the direction of the prime minister that I have come and in 10 days’ time, we will submit a detailed report on this visit and follow up action would be based on it,” he added.
After going around Kottayam, Rijiju returned to Kochi, from where he left for Delhi.
Huge damage was caused due to heavy rains that lashed most parts of the state over two weeks. Some of the worst-hit include Idukki, Ernakulam, besides parts of Kozhikode, Thrissur, Wayanad, Palakkad and Kannur.
The official death toll is 20 although sources say more than 40 people have died.
People in relief camps and those who still live in flooded homes complained of slow and little response on the part of the state and federal governments.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the flood-hit areas in Kuttanad this week, said the conditions in the camps were pathetic.
“Their homes are flooded and there is water everywhere, and all road links are cut. But they don’t have a drop of water to drink,” he said.
“The ministers and legislators from the district have left them in suffering without even visiting the area. Kuttanad is under the threat of an epidemic.”
He asked the government to convene a special cabinet meeting and bring effective measures to control the flood situation on a war footing before “things get out of hand.”
Meanwhile, heavy rainfall triggered by a low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal has thrown life out of gear in several parts of Odisha.
This prompted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to call an emergency meeting yesterday to review the situation.
Chandigarh too received a heavy downpour yesterday afternoon disrupting life in several areas with roads inundated and traffic snarls occurring at several places.
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