Volunteers and local residents search for survivors following landslides at Puthumala village in Kerala’s Wayanad district. Agence France-Presse
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muralidharan stated that there exists no ban on accepting foreign contributions towards Kerala flood relief. “Nobody has said not to accept foreign funds for flood relief”, Muralidharan told media persons at a press conference here on Friday. Reporters asked if the Centre had stopped the assistance offered to Kerala from foreign countries including UAE last time.
According to the minister, the central government is in full support to Kerala to overcome the flood havoc.”All assistance requested by the state government has already been provided. About half of the Rs3,047 crore (Rs30.47 billion) allotted last year is still in the possession of the state,” Muralidharan said.
The minister, who had earlier triggered a controversy over his flood comments, added that at present Kerala is not in a condition that demands the visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Muralidharan was addressing the media at Kochi International Airport at Nedumbassery on his way to visit the flood-hit areas.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had criticised Muralidharan for the latter’s comment that “enough” central aid has been distributed in the flood-hit state. “I haven’t said central aid is enough to union MoS for Home, Nityananda Rai. I couldn’t follow his Hindi. So we arranged for my secretary to speak to his secretary. We haven’t said central aid is enough,” Pinarayi had said while refuting Muralidharan’s claim. Muralidharan had claimed the state did not yet spend Rs15 billion out of theRs30 billion sanctioned as central aid last year. Chief minister said the money for long term projects like rebuilding cannot be expected to be spent within a year.
Also on Friday, Mata Amritanandamayi offered Rs100,000 compensation to the families who lost their loved ones in the recent rain havoc in Kerala. The amount will be given to every family who lost a member. Mata Amritanandamayi said that everyone should console the affected families and provide them help and support. She also opined that uncontrolled destruction of trees and other natural resources multiply the impact natural disasters.
A 24-hour helpline centre has been set up in the Amritapuri campus of the Amrita Vishwa Vidya Peedom for helping flood victims. The youth wing of Amritanandamayi Math is in charge of the helpline. They developed an android app ‘Amritakripa’ to provide medical help, food, water and other essentials to flood affected people.
The institutions under the Math in Wayanad, Idukki and Malappuram districts are functioning as flood relief centres. The Math had contributed Rs100 million to Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF) during last year’s unprecedented flood that claimed more than 400 lives.
A week later, the misery at Kavalapara — about 50 kms from here — continues as men and machines work overtime to recover 26 bodies lying deep in the huge pile of mud which till last Thursday was a hillock.
In one of the worst ever landslides that hit the village, an area of more than 75 acres, which was full of rubber trees of multiple homesteads, is now nothing but a muddy place.
With the place being reduced to mud, 45 houses were swept away by the flowing waters which also deposited almost 50 feet of mud that buried 59 people alive.
But it was only after two days that the authorities managed to reach the place which was cut off on account of incessant rains and by then the last hope for any survivors had also disappeared.
Since then, two dozen machines of various sizes and shapes are working furiously moving the mud and the entangled trees to recover the bodies trapped in the sludge along with hundreds of officials from the Army, the National Disaster Response Force and locals.
On Thursday, three bodies was recovered as the total number taken out from the mud touched 33 and the work continues as another 26 are believed to be buried.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, roads in the locality, two bridges and even a fast flowing stream have all borne the brunt of nature’s fury.
Among those who have come and seen for themselves the huge tragedy includes Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Vijayan on Thursday in his address to the state on the occasion of Independence Day recalled Kavalapara where a mosque allowed autopsy of the landslide victims to be conducted within its premises.