Flood-hit Indian state Kerala stares at uphill task of relief, reconstruction

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-20 15:48:13|Editor: xuxin
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By Pankaj Yadav

NEW DELHI, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- As water level reportedly started receding in parts of floods-ravaged southern Indian state of Kerala, the focus was slowly shifting to relief and reconstruction work, said state government sources.

In the next few days, efforts would be made to make real estimates of the damages done to life and property by the floods fury.

Kerala's main English daily Manorama reported in its online edition on Monday, "Floodwaters slowly recede as rain wanes in Kerala. The flood situation in Kerala has eased to a large extent with sky turning clear in the state but affected areas in the districts of Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur are still reeling under crises. Several people are still stranded in these areas even as rescue operations have entered the final stages."

Like in the aftermath of a natural disaster, enough care was being taken to ensure prevention of outbreak of any epidemic in the water-logged areas. According to a report in the Indian Express, the state has sought from the federal government 90 different kinds of medicines to prepare in advance for disease outbreaks.

Health Minister J.P. Nadda assured all kinds of medical help to the state devastated by floods, described as the worst in a century.

He said that he was in regular touch with his counterpart in the state government, and that his ministry was coordinating with other Indian states which have promised to provide medicines so as to augment supplies.

"We are monitoring the flood situation in Kerala on a regular basis. Heath Secretary in Delhi is in constant communication with the state health functionaries and monitoring the situation daily through the disease surveillance network," said Nadda.

There is said to be an acute shortage of drinking water in the flood-affected districts in the state. To address this problem, the Railways Ministry is making elaborate arrangements to provide potable water.

According to sources in the Railways Ministry, as many as 300,000 water bottles of one liter each have already been dispatched for the flood-ravaged state. Besides, nearly 2 million liters of water was being transported to Kerala through water-special trains in various parts to cater to the needs of the people living in relief camps.

Rough estimates that there are nearly 1 million people staying in around 5,000 relief camps across the state.

Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons, who hails from Kerala, tweeted: "Today we have close to a million people in relief camps. District collectors are working as coordinators and providing supplies. Central forces are providing amazing service to Kerala. Biggest heroes are fishermen, they came in 600 boats and are rescuing people."

Amid water logging in some parts of the state, the Indian Railways has announced cancellation of as many as four long-distance trains, partially cancelled three other trains, and diverted the routes of some trains.

Indian Railways' staff have been working round-the-clock to clear the tracks of debris/carcasses due to earth slips, boulders and uprooted trees.

Officials were deployed near sensitive locations such as rail bridges, tunnels and curves to gauge water levels.

In order to get the state connected with the rest of the country, trains are run to various destinations through the available diverted routes touching districts of Erode, Dindigul, Karur, Tirunelveli and Nagercoil.

Daily special trains are run between Ernakulam district to the state capital Trivandrum via Alleppey district which helped many rescue officials to reach different places with support.

Meanwhile, in a major development addressing the connectivity problem, air operations began at Cochin city even as a commercial flight landed at the naval base airstrip on Monday morning.

This stopgap arrangement has been made as air services from the Cochin International Airport have been suspended over the last few days owing to water-logging on the runway amid incessant rains.

It's after 18 years that this naval base airstrip has been used for civil flight operations.

India's Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted: "Congratulations to team @airindiain. 1st scheduled flight lands at Cochin INS Garuda (the alternate site for Cochin Airport) from Bangalore with over 70 passengers."