Kerala floods: Death toll rises to 357, expert says part of the problem ‘man-made’

People move past a flooded area in Thrissur, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. Rescuers used helicopters and boats on Friday to evacuate thousands of people stranded on their rooftops following unprecedented flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala that left more than 100 dead. (AP Photo)

The Indian Meterological Department has said that “heavy rainfall” is expected only in Kozhikode, Kannur and Idduki districts over the next four days. There will be no subsequent rainfall in other major areas of flood ravaged Kerala. Upto 9 lakh people have been rescued and put in shelter homes. The death toll has climbed to 357.

The focus now is on ensuring relief to those affected and renewing civic infrastructure that had been damaged. Authorities have raised concerns over breakout of air-borne and water-borne diseases.

“The focus of the state government will be to bring life back to normalcy even as rescuing the people stranded in remote areas continues. Rehabilitation of the affected will be taken up with the cooperation of the local people,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said after a review meeting on Sunday.

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The operation of civilian flights are currently being carried out in Indian Navy Station INS Garuda, due to the flooding of Kochi airport.

The author of a report on the conservation of the Western Ghats, Scientist Madhav Gadgil, said on Sunday that the scale of the disaster would have been smaller had the state government and local authorities followed environmental laws. He headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010, said at least a part of the problem in Kerala was “man made”.

“Yes, there is an intense rainfall event which has caused this. But I am quite convinced that the last several years’ developments in the state have materially compromised its ability to deal with events like this and greatly increased the magnitude of the suffering that we are seeing today. Had proper steps been taken, the scale of the disaster would have been nowhere near what it is today,” Dr Gadgil told The Indian Express.

The panel had in 2011, had provided suggestions on measures for preserving the natural environment of the ecologically fragile Western Ghats region. The report had recommended that the entirety of the Western Ghats be declared ecologically sensitive.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the flood ravaged state of Kerala after chairing a high level meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister Alphons KJ and other state ministers for checking rehabilitations measures and assessing the damage. He also announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased.

The President of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan instructed officials to set up a national emergency committee to help flood-hit areas of Kerala, reported news agency ANI.

n one of the first unprecedented floods in history, fresh onslaught of rain in Kerala since August 8 has led to a death toll of over 300 and 35 out of 39 dams have been opened. A red alert has been issued in all the 14 districts of the state. There have been power cuts and food shortage across the state.



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