A devastating landslide, a plane crash and the COVID-19 outbreak that forced a nationwide lockdown, left thousands jobless and claimed more than 2,800 lives so far. 2020 will be a year everyone wants to forget, but the lessons Kerala learnt will definitely help it build resilience to overcome future crises and calamities
Though Kerala was the first state in the country to report a COVID-positive case, the government’s prompt response to the deadly virus had won the appreciation of even the World Health Organisation. However, the cases started peaking by October with the inflow of expatriates and due to Onam festival, and easing of lockdown restrictions. As on December 22, Kerala has reported 7.15 lakh COVID-19 cases, of which 61,468 are active.
So far, 2,870 people have lost their lives to the pandemic. Kerala’s experience in outbreak response in the past, especially Nipah in 2018-19, had come in handy in controlling the spread. After the local body polls, the state government has warned of a spike in COVID cases and asked people to be ‘extremely careful’.
The initial two months of the COVID lockdown had crippled the state’s economy causing a loss of I80,000 crore in gross value added during Q1 (April-June) of the fiscal. Though the economy is recovering gradually, the state’s revenue resources have been severely impacted.
Besides, many daily wagers, construction labourers, transport workers, restaurant workers, traders and fishermen have lost their livelihood. Many families survived on the food kits distributed by the government.
The ripple effects of the lockdown led to layoffs, rationalisation of staff and unpaid days of leave. One crore workers have suffered a loss of I560.8 crore per day.
A container truck rammed a KSRTC bus at Avinashi in Tamil Nadu, killing 19 Keralites. The bus was returning from Bengaluru when the accident occurred. As many as 23 passengers were injured in the accident.
JANUARY 20: Eight Keralites, including four children, holidaying in Nepal, died due to suspected asphyxiation after the heater in their suite at a hill resort in Daman, located 80 km from capital Kathmandu, reportedly leaked carbon monoxide. The victims were residents of Thiruvananthapuram
Tragedy struck Karipur airport in Malappuram on
AUGUST 7: As an Air India Express flight from Dubai skidded off the table-top runway due to heavy rain at 7.41pm and plunged 35 feet to a road, killing 21 people and leaving 120 others injured.
The flight was deployed under the Vande Bharat Mission to bring expats from the UAE in view of the global lockdown triggered by COVID-19. There were pregnant women and children among the passengers.
When the hill came crashing
The month of August brought misfortune to Kerala for the third consecutive year. Around 10.30pm on August 6, a portion of the Pettimudi hills in the pristine Rajamalai hills of Munnar came crashing down following torrential rain, sweeping away 40 estate quarters in the valley and burying 82 people under tonnes of dirt and debris.
Though rescue workers pulled out 12 people belonging to two families alive from the heaps of slush, bodies of 66 people were dug up while four remain missing. The victims belonged to families of tea plantation workers, most of them migrants from Tamil Nadu.
The area received 159.4cm rainfall in the 96 hours between August 3 and 6 -- one of the highest precipitations Munnar has witnessed since 1924.
Renowned Malayalam poet and Jnanpith winner Mahakavi Akkitham Achuthan Namboodiri, 94, passed away on October 15. A writer, journalist and editor, he was conferred the Ezhuthachan Award and Padma Shri. He had authored 47 books.
Music composer MK Arjunan, 84, died in Kochi on April 6. Regarded as the master of melodies, he has composed music for more than 700 songs in 200 films
Eminent writer UA Khader, 85, who enriched Malayalam language and literature with his unique style, died on December 12. He had published more than 70 novels, short stories and travelogues, considered among the finest works in the language.
Socialist leader, Rajya Sabha member and writer MP Veerendrakumar passed away following a heart attack on May 28. The 84-year-old was the state president of Loktantrik Janata Dal and had served as a minister in the state and at the Centre.
Director of super-hit Malayalam movie 'Ayyappanum Koshiyum', KR Sachidandan, popularly known as Sachy, passed away due to cardiac arrest on June 18. He was 48. He had directed ‘Anarkali’ in 2015 and wrote the scripts of hits like ‘Run Baby Run’, ‘Raamaleela’ and ‘Driving Licence’.
RSS ideologue and writer P Parameswaran passed away at Ottappalam on February 9. The 93- year-old was the director of Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram.
THE KERALA CONNECT
Veteran playback singer SP Balasubramaniam passed away due to COVID-19 infection on September 25. He sang around 120 Malayalam songs and had a huge fan following in Kerala. He was honoured with Harivarasanam Award by Kerala government in 2015. The Travancore Devaswom Board had conducted special poojas for his recovery at Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple on August 21.
Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona, one of the greatest players of all time, died of heart attack on November 25. The Kerala government announced a two-day mourning in the sports sector as a mark of respect to Maradona. He had a huge fan following in Kerala and had visited the state in 2012.
South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's death in Latvia left his Kerala fans in anguish. He had a huge fan base, especially among youngsters, in the state. His films were played to packed houses during the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) and the director had flown down to the state capital to attend the closing ceremony of IFFK as the chief guest in 2013.