Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday cancelled his trip to the United States, and will instead convene an all-party meeting on Tuesday in view of the floods in the state. So far, 357 people have died in the floods since May 29. The meeting will review the rescue and relief work, and consider the reconstruction activities necessary after the floods, The Hindu reported.
Meanwhile, Union Minister KJ Alphons said on Monday that the government needs electricians, plumbers, and carpenters more than food and clothes to put the state back on track. “There will be no electricity in homes. Carpentry and plumbing would be gone,” Alphons told ANI. “We need hundreds of thousands of electricians, plumbers, and carpenters to rush to Kerala. We don’t need clothes and food. People with technical capabilities are required to put life back into Kerala.”
Alphons said close to a million people were living in relief camps, with district collectors working as coordinators to provide supplies. “The biggest heroes are fishermen, they came in 600 boats and are rescuing people,” he added.
Union Health Minister JP Nadda said 3,757 medical camps have been set up and an advisory has been issued for daily monitoring and surveillance, reported ANI. “There is requirement of 90 different medicines and the first instalment has reached,” Nadda added. “Quick response medical teams will start work as soon as the water recedes.”
Lieutenant General DR Soni, the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Southern Command, said 70 teams of the Army were present with boats, life vests, and food packets. “Places where light and helicopters can’t reach, my boys have reached,” ANI quoted him as saying.
Train services, which were partly restored on Sunday, are gradually returning to normalcy. Trains between Thiruvanathapuram and Ernakulam are now being normalised, PTI reported.
More heavy rain expected next month
Kerala has received 264% of its average rainfall for August so far, the India Meteorological Department said on Sunday. Between August 1 and 19, the state received 758.6 mm of rainfall, against the average of 287.6 mm.
Idukki district received 192% of its average rainfall, while Palakkad received 172%. The state has received 142% of its average rainfall this monsoon season. While the average is 1649.55 mm until August 19, there has been 2346.3 mm of precipitation.
“This year the heavy rainfall was because of the perfect confluence of the southwest monsoon wind system and the two low-pressure systems that formed over the Bay of Bengal and Odisha,” senior IMD scientist Mrityunjay Mohapatra said according to the Hindustan Times.
More heavy rainfall is expected in September, Mohapatra said. “Kerala usually gets extremely heavy rainfall – up to 24 cms – in September, so we can expect more extremely heavy rainfall in the state,” he said. “However, this should not worsen the flood situation.”
‘Part of the tragedy is man-made’
Meanwhile, ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010, said that at least part of the tragedy in Kerala is man-made, The Indian Express reported. “Yes, there is an intense rainfall event which has caused this,” he said. “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.”