THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Nearly two weeks after setting in over the state, the Southwest Monsoon is yet to pick up the momentum needed for a fair distribution of rain across the state. However, stung by the haunting nightmare of the back-to-back flood, a section of people living in the flood-prone areas are voluntarily shifting to rented premises or moving in with their relatives to avoid a tryst with floodwaters, especially during this season when the Covid pandemic is spreading its tentacles.
Basheer, 49, of Madhurampilly in Thrissur, said, “I don’t want to take chances this time as the back-to-back flood had dealt me a severe blow. This time I have rented a house ahead of the monsoon and already moved in. I will think of returning to my house only after the monsoon season ends. With aged parents and a newborn to look after, I can’t think of moving into the government relief camp this year,” said Basheer, a daily wage earner who is a Gulf returnee.
But this is not an isolated case. Several families, living in the vulnerable areas, with members belonging to high-risk groups are not ready to risk their lives. According to a senior officer of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), “People arranging makeshift accommodation is a welcome development. Considering the reports from places like West Bengal, where cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc and even the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel had tested COVID-19 positive, the relief and rescue work will be challenging in Kerala as well this year”.
Though the local bodies were asked to arrange four categories of buildings to accommodate people, including those in institutional and home quarantine, the fact is that chances of Covid carriers mingling with the masses are high. Moreover, the buildings identified by the government for quarantining suspected cases will be used as relief centres during this monsoon period. So the frontline Covid treatment centre will become rescue and relief centres this monsoon,” he said.
Around 2,000 buildings across the state will be readied by the KSDMA in cooperation with various departments ahead of monsoon season. The government has identified vacant buildings, including hotels, to put up those quarantined. All these buildings will now be used as relief centres when the southwest monsoon causes flooding in the state as per the forecast.