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Kerala floods: State seeks Rs 2,600 crore special package from Centre as more than 10 lakh displaced, death toll nears 400

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 21, Aug 2018, 17:56 pm IST | UPDATED: 21, Aug 2018, 18:40 pm IST

Kerala floods: State seeks Rs 2,600 crore special package from Centre as more than 10 lakh displaced, death toll nears 400 New Delhi: Kerala today sought a Rs 2,600 crore special package from the Centre even as the state struggled to find its feet after the devastating deluge that left 223 dead in a fortnight and forced over 10 lakh people out of their homes.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a meeting of the state cabinet, which decided to seek a special package from the Centre under the centrally-sponsored schemes including the latter's flagship rural employment programme MNREGS.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended Rs. 700 crore as financial assistance to rebuild the flood-ravaged state.

The UAE has been one of the first countries to offer solidarity with the people in Kerala. "The people of Kerala have always been and are still part of our success story in the UAE," UAE's vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had tweeted recently.

The UAE is home to several people from Kerala who have moved there. According to estimates, there are 2 million Indians in the UAE, who form around 30 per cent of the country's population.

"The people of Kerala have always been and are still part of our success story in the UAE," the vice president tweeted.

The UAE government had formed a national emergency committee to help the flood victims.

With rains easing and water receding in some areas of flood-ravaged Kerala, people started returning to their homes as Union Minister K J Alphons today appealed for cooked food and skilled workers to rehabilitate more than 10 lakh displaced people.

The centre has declared the devastating floods in the state a "calamity of severe nature". "Keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides in Kerala, this is a calamity of a severe nature for all practical purposes," a home ministry official said in New Delhi.

This categorisation will enable the state get greater monetary and other assistance from the centre.

Though there has been some respite from the rain in the last two days, the water level has not come down in several areas of the worst-hit Ernakulam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kollam districts, the officials said, a day after the Union Home Ministry declared the flood a 'calamity of severe nature'.  

Rail and road traffic services have been restored in most places, they said.

As relief agencies, local governments and people across the country banded together to put together relief supplies, the flood-hit in several parts of Kerala began returning home.

 Many people found their electrical appliances and furniture ruined and a thick layers of sludge and slime. Incidents of snake bites were also reported from Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.

HAM radio operators are helping in rescue operations in flood-devastated Kerala by tracing stranded people through their last mobile phone location and sharing information with officials as most communication services remain hit in the state.

Over 300 HAM radio operators are working round-the-clock in Kerala and are helping the administration in rescue operations, Director of the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Amateur Radio, Ram Mohan Suri, said.

Suri said 1,650 people were rescued based on HAM radio support from the Thiruvananthapuram centre from August 16 to August 19.

Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina today said all 41 lawmakers of the party from the state, including four members of Parliament and 26 MLAs, will donate their one month's salary to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund (PMRF) for flood victims in Kerala.

Hundreds of thousands have been shifted to relief camps in Kerala as nearly 100 dams, reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, roads caved in, sections of highways collapsed, and homes swept away amid warnings of worse weather to come.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas and announced Rs. 500 crore in aid, a fourth of the amount sought by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The financial assistance of Rs. 500 crore was announced in addition to Rs. 100 crore announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 12. About Rs. 80 crore had also been announced by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju.

As many as 500 full time party workers have also come forward to work as volunteers in the flood-affected areas of the coastal state and are waiting for a nod from the party's central leadership, Raina told reporters here.

Over a dozen FMCG firms, including ITC, Coca Cola, Pepsi and Hindustan Unilever, have pledged to supply water bottle, food and necessary items to flood-hit areas of Kerala in the next two days, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said today.

In a late evening meeting yesterday with the representatives of leading food processing companies, Badal discussed a plan to strategise assistance to Kerala in the coming days.

Maruti Suzuki India said today that the company along with its employees will donate Rs 3.5 crore as Kerala flood relief effort.

It has donated Rs 2 crore towards the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to strengthen relief, rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts of the government, Maruti Suzuki India said in a statement.

In addition, employees of the company will make a contribution amounting to Rs 1.5 crore, it added.

In view of the unprecedented flood situation in Kerala, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has suspended user fee at three toll plazas in the state, the government today said.

The waiver has been made on the toll plazas at Paliekkara in Thrissur district, Pampampallam in Palakkad district and Kumbalam in Cochin, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways said in a statement.

The waiver came into effect last week and will continue till August 26, it added.

Bajaj Auto today announced contribution of Rs 2 crore in aid of flood-hit Kerala.

While Rs 1 crore is being contributed directly to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, the balance Rs 1 crore will be deployed by Jankidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sanstha (JBGVS), for distribution of survival kits, the company said in a statement.

The contribution is in addition to the Rs 50 lakh already contributed by various Bajaj Trusts, it added.

Meanwhile, employees of the Central Railway have decided to contribute parts of their salary for the same cause, according to details released by the ministry today.

While those in the pay grade of Rs 1,800-2,000 will pay Rs 500 to the fund, those between Rs 2,400-2,800 will contribute Rs 700, those in the pay grade 4,200-4,600 will give Rs 1,000 each, those between Rs 4,800-6,600 will pay Rs 1,500, those earning Rs 7,600 pay grade to pay Rs 2,000, and those in the category of Rs 8,700-10,000 to donate Rs 2,500. All those in the grade of Rs 10,000 and more will pay Rs 3,000 each.

The state government has said that the deluge has led to a loss of over Rs. 19,000 crore. "As per the initial estimate, the state has suffered a loss of Rs. 19,512 crore. The actual loss can be ascertained after the water recedes in the affected areas. The state has sought an immediate assistance of Rs. 2,000 crore," he said.
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