THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the state is reeling under a monster Covid second wave, the government has started preparations for an above normal monsoon. Unlike last year, when Covid-infected people were mainly admitted to hospitals and institutional quarantine facilities arranged by the government, the challenges faced by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority this time are manifold. Now, with the government giving priority to domiciliary treatment of Covid patients to ease the pressure on the health system, rescue and relief operations pose a greater challenge to agencies engaged in disaster risk mitigation and preparedness.
A senior revenue officer said, “The state relief commissioner will convene a meeting of district collectors and various stakeholders during the weekend or early next week to review the preparedness. Besides, the meeting will finalise steps to be taken in the event of extreme rainfall events.”
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will come out with updated monsoon forecasts by mid-May, which will provide further information on the date of its likely onset over Kerala and how the monsoon will spread across the state. The April forecast by IMD indicated a normal Southwest Monsoon, with above normal rainfall. However, the IMD’s May forecast will be more accurate, based on which we will give shape to the final preparations,” he said.
Also, a new protocol will be formulated to coordinate the relief and rescue operations, which will be given final shape at the meeting convened by the state relief commissioner. Meanwhile, the weather models released by the Met agencies pointed out the likely formation of a weather system over the Arabian Sea next week. If the weather model develops into a cyclonic system, the onset of monsoon over Kerala may be slightly delayed.
In 2019, the last week of the month of May had witnessed a cyclonic system over the Arabian Sea, resulting in the monsoon setting in over the state only on June 8.Last year, though the state did not have to endure a flood havoc like in the previous years, the Pettimudi landslide in Idukki and Cyclone Burevi — which thankfully weakened into a depression off Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu before entering Kerala — had kept the disaster management agencies in the state on their toes.
Though the state government had readied four categories of buildings in each local body to function as relief camps — for people from all walks of life, highly vulnerable sections, those with suspected Covid symptoms and the home quarantined — many local bodies failed to ensure this, despite them having identified buildings for NRIs repatriated in the wake of the first Covid wave.