Respite from rains, Kerala CM announces relief
The flood situation in Kerala remained grim with vast swathes of land submerged in Idukki, Ernakulam an Thrissur districts, but there was some respite from rains on Saturday, even as the government announced Rs 10 lakh each for the families which lost their homes and properties.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who undertook an aerial survey of the worst affected areas of Idukki, Wayanad and other districts, also announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each for those who lost their homes.
With the state reeling under the flood waters causing widespread damage and destruction, the Centre deployed 14 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams comprising over 400 rescuers and 31 boats in Thrissue, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Idukki districts.
The teams assisted the state administration in recue and relief operations as well as distribution of essential relief material along with providing medical support.
Additional teams have also been kept at standby in the nearest NDRF battalion in Arakkonam near Chennai in case of urgent mobilization.
Home Minister Rajnath will make an aerial survey of the affected areas along with Tourism Minister KJ Alphons, who hails from Kerala.
Rain gods appeared to show some mercy as the inflow into the Idukki dam on Saturday came down marginally and stood at 2,400.40 feet against 2,401.76 feet on Friday evening.
It brought cheer to those living in and around Cheruthoni town downstream of Idukki dam and also those in Aluva, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts wich were worst hit by the surging Periyar river.
"The rains have slowed down in and around the Idukki dam since last night. The water level in the dam has also come down," said State Power Minister M.M. Mani after a review meeting at Idukki.
"So far things are fine and everything is going on as planned. The water that came down the five floodgates, barring at Cheruthoni, has not caused any major crisis," said Mani, who is monitoring the situation from Idukki.
The Cheruthoni bridge continued to be submerged. It had come under severe stress with uprooted trees hitting the bridge.
On Saturday evening the inflow into the dam came below 600 cubic metres of water per second, while the outflow through the floodgates is 750 cubic metres per second.
Authorities on Friday had feared that parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts would be submerged following the opening of all five floodgates.
However, this did not happen as the dam water entered the tributaries of the Periyar river.
According to sources, if the water level in the dam comes down to 2,400 feet, it was likely to bring down the outflow through the five shutters as well -- to around 500 cubic metres per second.
On Saturday morning, a team led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accompanied by leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Chief Secretary Tom Jose and Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra made an aerial survey of the worst affected districts.
Even though their first stop was planned at Idukki, Vijayan said they could not land there due to bad conditions which forced them to travel to Wayanad.
Wayanad had come under severe stress on account of the rains that has led to large-scale destruction of property due to landslides. Around 10,000 people in the district are living in some 200 relief camps.
Later Vijayan aannounced a compensation of Rs four lakh each to all those who lost their homes, while those who had lost both their homes and other properties would get Rs 10 lakh.
Each person put up in relief camps would receive Rs 3,800, Vijayan said.
He later arrived at Ernakulam and visited two relief camps and assured the people of all help. In and around Ernakulam there are 78 relief camps that house 10,000 people.
Late last night at a camp near Ernakulam, superstar Mammootty came and spent half-an-hour at relief camps. He later assured the authorities that he would be extending help to the affected.
The floods have claimed 30 lives so far. The deaths were reported from Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.
Vijayan later appealed to the Kerala diapsora to contribute generously to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. - IANS