Updated: August 21, 2018 11:18:33 pm
As Kerala battles its worst floods in a century, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said that the state, with help from the centre and armed forces, is constantly trying to overcome the situation. The floods, due to incessant rains, have led to acute distress in the state. Lakhs of people have been moved to relief camps but many remain stranded in their homes. On Saturday alone, at least 58,506 persons were relocated from the worst-hit districts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur. The death toll also rose to 194 since August 8. Despite the administration’s best efforts, Vijayan said, Kerala remains a bigger challenge. Here is why:
Vijayan, in a press conference on Saturday, explained that not only the heavy rains but also the poor management of inter-state reservoirs have caused such a havoc in Kerala. The Chief Minister had earlier urged the Tamil Nadu government not to discharge water from the Mullaperiyar to Idukki reservoir, which is already brimming with a storage of 2,397 feet against its maximum capacity of 2,403 feet.
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The state experienced frequent cloudbursts followed by depression which has led to excessive rain. It received an excess of 42.17 per cent of rainfall between June 1 and August 18. A normal course of monsoon is in the range of +/-19 per cent, thus signifying that this has been an extraordinary monsoon for the state. Idukki in central Kerala, a hilly terrain, received a cumulative rainfall of 3211.06 mm, pointing to excess rainfall of 83.59 per cent.
In comparison with other places, Vijayan claimed that Kerala is likely to register a high toll in terms of death and destruction because of its sheer population density. Kerala’s density population is 860 people per square kilometre, which is three times the national average.
Low lying area
Explaining the topography of Kerala, Vijayan said 10 per cent of the land in the state lies below sea level. The state also has over 80 dams and more than 41 rivers flowing into the Arabian sea. The disaster is not just restricted to a place or region but had spread to all the districts within days of second-phase of rain, he said. With roughly more than half of the people living in rural areas, the floods will eventually result in loss of land and property to many in the state. So far 40,000 hectares of farm land and 20,000 houses have been destroyed.
With dams and rivers overflowing with floodwaters, the entire state has been inundated with water. Houses and buildings were submerged leaving many people stranded. The Naval forces were not able to use inland waterways for rescue operations because of excessive flow. Helicopters were also not fully functional due to bad weather conditions. The state also strengthened the district control rooms to escalate the rescue efforts. A total of 52 teams of Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Fire Force and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are actively engaged in relief efforts in the state.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had requested an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre as the state suffered a loss of Rs 19,512 crore as per initial assessment. But only, a relief of Rs 600 crore has been sanctioned by the central government so far.
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