Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said the state seeks to raise Rs 10,500 crore from the open market for reconstruction after the floods wrecked havoc. The state proposes to raise the money by requesting the Centre to increase the borrowing limit from 3% to 4.5% of the gross state domestic product, said the chief minister.

Vijayan said the state government will also demand a Rs 2,600-crore special package under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act from the Centre. He made the announcement after chairing a meeting of the state Cabinet in Thiruvananthapuram.

The state has witnessed widespread destruction owing to heavy rains followed by flooding. 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. The Centre has promised the state Rs 500 crore as interim relief even though the state asked for Rs 2,000 crore.

“[The] Cabinet [has] decided to submit to the central government a comprehensive plan that will enable the rehabilitation of the affected people and the rebuilding of Kerala,” Vijayan tweeted. “Our aim is not merely a restoration of the state to pre-flood times but the creation of a new Kerala.”

The chief minister said his government will request National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to implement long-term projects for infrastructure development in agriculture and irrigation sector. He said a moratorium has been announced for bank loans in flood-hit regions and this will apply to commercial and cooperative banks.

Meanwhile, the state Cabinet has decided to impose a 10% cess on state GST to raise funds for reconstruction and asked all departments to draft action plans for reconstruction efforts, The Hindu reported.

A special session of the Kerala Assembly will be held on August 30 to discuss the aftermath of the floods and relief works.

The chief minister has also convened an all-party meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday to discuss the flood relief and restoration work, reported ANI.

Armed forces scale down operations

The armed forces started scaling down relief operations in the state on Tuesday, reported the Hindustan Times. Flood waters have receded in most parts. Road, rail and air transport have resumed partially across the state.

The National Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday said 373 people died in rain-related incidents and 32 others were reported since May 30. More than 54.11 lakh people in Kerala were affected in the massive floods of which 12.47 lakh have taken shelter in 5,645 relief camps.

In Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts, most people have moved out of relief camps back to their houses. “Over 90% people have gone back from camps in the district to their homes,” a police official in Kozhikode said. “There are many people who are in a very bad state and so it was decided to distribute [relief] kits to them as the festivals are just around the corner even though there may be no celebrations.”

Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra said they will monitor security of all relief camps in the state, Mathrubhumi reported. “Due to the presence of a huge number of women and children, there will be strict screening of people who visit the camps,” he said.

In Chengannur, one of the worst-hit towns in Alappuzha district, more than 60 cm of water continued to block many roads even as more rain was reported from the area. Army personnel said thousands of people were stranded in their homes that have been inundated following 10 days of heavy rain.