Pinarayi Vijayan (File | EPS)
Pinarayi Vijayan (File | EPS)

Kerala floods: Death toll rises to 483, says CM Pinarayi Vijayan

At present there are 59,296 persons living in relief camps, Chief Minister said.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala flood disaster has claimed 483 lives and 15 people are still missing, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday.

Opening the debate at a special one-day session of the Assembly to discuss the disaster, Vijayan said that at the height of the floods, the worst to hit the state in a century, there were 14.50 lakh people in relief camps.

"The latest figure is there are 59,296 people in 305 relief camps. A total of 57,000 hectares of agricultural crops have been destroyed. An approximate estimate of the loss is more than the annual outlay of our state," he said.

Exploring the feasibility of environment-friendly constructions while rebuilding the flood-ravaged Kerala, the State Assembly began its one-day special session to discuss the rehabilitation of victims and reconstruction of infrastructure.

Presenting the resolution, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the state expects more relief from the Centre after the final assessment of damages in the catastrophic flood. 

Pinarayi said different agencies from across the world have offered help. The World Bank team has held a discussion with the chief secretary. State's policy is to accept help from any quarters, if it is in line with the state's interests. 

The salary challenge was well accepted by employees and service organisations. The Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund received Rs 730 crore so far. Donations in the form of ornaments and land are also pouring in. Efforts are on to link the non-resident Keralite population and the recently-constituted Loka Kerala Sabha with the formation of a New Kerala. 

Pinarayi said the rehabilitation and reconstruction challenges were huge. Rehabilitation is not possible in areas prone to landslides and floods. Construction activities should be environment-friendly. Roads and bridges have been destroyed on a large scale. Procuring raw materials for construction works is a serious issue. 

Livelihood restoration is essential for bringing back people to normal life. The economy is at a standstill. The chief minister said the service of fishermen was crucial in turning rescue operations a success. 

Opposition UDF unleashed a scathing attack on the failure of the Dam Management system in the state. It's a man-made disaster, said VS Satheesan of Congress who demanded that the officials responsible for the disaster should be prosecuted. 

Veteran CPM leader and former chief minister VS Achuthanandan pointed at policy level flaws that led to the disaster. Developmental activities should be carried out keeping environmental concerns in mind, VS said while urging the government to come up with a comprehensive master plan for rebuilding Kerala. 

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