The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday declared the floods in Kerala as a calamity of severe nature, PTI reported.

“Keeping in view of the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides in Kerala, this is a calamity of a severe nature for all practical purposes,” an unidentified home ministry official said. The decision was taken considering the damage caused by the heavy rain and floods this monsoon, especially in past one week, in Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said six people died on Monday. At least 223 people have lost their lives in the rains, floods and landslides in the state since August 8 and more than 360 people since May 29. Rescue operations are still under way across the state.

“Centre said they will make all necessary requirements available to us but in today’s situation what is most needed is the necessary help, equivalent to the total damages caused so far,” Vijayan said, according to ANI.

When a calamity is declared to be of “rare severity” or “severe nature”, support to the state government is provided at the national level. The Centre also considers additional assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund, reported PTI.

A Calamity Relief Fund is set up, with the corpus shared on a ratio of 3:1 between the Centre and the state government. If resources in the Calamity Relief Fund are inadequate, additional assistance is considered from the National Calamity Contingency Fund, funded completely by the Centre. Relief in repayment of loans or for grant of fresh loans to flood victims on concessional terms are considered once a calamity is declared “severe”.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had visited the state on August 12 and declared an immediate assistance of Rs 100 crore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an aid of Rs 500 crore during his visit on August 16.

Earlier on Monday, the Centre informed the Kerala High Court that there was no provision in the statutes or manuals to declare a disaster as a national calamity. The Centre said it is only an expression used in general parlance, reported The Times of India.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala have been demanding that the Centre declare the floods a “national disaster”.

‘Health, sanitation are priority’

Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja said that health and sanitation are a priority in the state now. “We have all the resources required to help the people and we also urge them to come forward if they any issue related to the same,” she told ANI.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government has announced that officials at the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram will be given the day off on Saturday for Thiruvonam Day, instead of a long weekend, reported The Indian Express.

Additional flights from Kochi naval base

IndiGo Airlines has announced that it will operate eight round trip relief flights from Kozhikode, Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Thiruvananthapuram, in addition to flying three daily additional relief flights (round trip) from Kochi naval base from Tuesday to Sunday.

The Southern Railway has announced that all flood-affected lines in Kerala have been restored, except a line from Punkunnam to Guruvayur and the Punalur-Sengottai ghat section. It has also cancelled a few trains, partially cancelled a few services and re-scheduled certain trains.