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Kerala floods will turn into a calamity of unimaginable proportions if help is not forthcoming warned Saji Cheiyan MLA, law maker from Chengannur of Pathanamthitta district. He warned that at least ten thousand people will die from starvation if more rescue teams and supplies are not deployed in the area by tomorrow morning. He said that at least 50,000 food packets should be air dropped from tomorrow morning. He asked for more help from central government to deploy the armed forces to partake in rescue operations. Pathanamthitta is one of the worst affected areas where tens of thousands of people are still stranded in roof tops and in remote areas.

However the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that rescue operations are well underway. He said that 40,000 police personnel, 3200 fire force units, 46 navy, 13 air force, 16 coast guard, 24 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are deployed in rescue operations. 3,14,391 people are living in 2094 relief camps right now. The Chief Minister said that 164 people have lost their lives in the recent floods. He also said that 324 people died in flood calamities in this monsoon season.

However, locals say that very food packets were air dropped in the worst affected areas of Pathanamthitta. That means ten of thousands of people are starving in Pathanamthitta district for the past three days. In this context, Saji Cheriyan MLA’s warning should be taken very seriously. It also means that there is serious co-ordination problem between the state and the centre in managing the worst calamity that Kerala has ever faced. Locals say that it’s the fishermen, who have voluntarily come forward with their boats to the flood affected areas, are more effective than the forces in the Pathanamthitta district.

It’s incredulous that the third largest military force in the world can’t deploy enough helicopters and personnel to rescue the stranded people. The political difference between left ruling Kerala and the BJP ruled centre should not come in the way of saving the lives of people caught in a natural calamity.

Eminent ecologist and environmentalist S Faizi noted in a Facebook post,

Why are we talking about 13 or 25 helicopters. We need at least 500 of these when more than 3 lakh people are marooned. Our military has about 330 helicopters. THey should bring at least 100 of these to Kerala immediately, If our political leadership gives out a call several countries will lend their helicopters. Lets not digress the debate to the non-issue of asking military to fully take over the rescue. This is not an issue at all. They can plan and launch their own operations, the state leadership and the people are fully with them. What the military needs is green signal from the political in Delhi for all out rescue operation, which is not forthcoming. We are managing reasonably well the relief camps on our own. We can pause and think about the reconstruction and rehabilitation. At this moment lets have 500 helictopters and rescue those lakhs who are stranded. Love to the fishermen whose boats have rescued several hundreds yesterday and to the navy.

The central government so far has allotted only Rs 100 crore so far to the state. Meanwhile, the neighbouring Karnataka state has donated RS 200 crore to the state.

There is a growing demand that the Kerala floods should be declared as a ‘National Disaster’. Leading social activist Medha Patkar also demanded the same.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come to the state and will visit the flood affected areas tomorrow.

There is an urgent need for cetral government to step up and allot more forces, helicopters, air planes and supplies urgently to avoid a water death for tens of thousand people in the state.

Binu Mathew is the editor of www.countercurrents.org

4 Comments

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  2. Farooque Chowdhury says:

    Thanks for the report. Such reports are needed.

  3. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Governments seem to be utterly unprepared to deal with floods or droughts. In monsoon seasons, floods have been occuring almost every year. Assam regularly reels under floods. Now it’ s kerala turn. While money is wasted on many trivial things like ads, emergency machinery to tackle severe floods is not made ready. Hence when floods occur, lots of lives are lost