A truck drives in flood water in India's southernmost flood-hit Kerala state, Aug. 22, 2018. According to media reports, the death toll in the devastating floods has reached 370. (Xinhua/Zhao Xu)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- As the biggest annual festival "Onam" goes on in India's southernmost flood-hit Kerala state, the state government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the victims get basic life support without delay.
Though the state government has officially cancelled Onam celebrations this year, people in unaffected, or less-affected areas, could be seen in festive spirit as colourful lightening were visible on houses or shopping complexes along the road stretches connecting one of the worst affected districts Alappuzha to state capital Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday night.
According to media reports, the death toll in the devastating floods has reached 370. Besides, 33 people are still missing.
Efforts are on to provide special facilities at relief camps till the flood-hit houses become habitable, said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after visiting relief camps at flood-stricken areas of Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur on Thursday.
Immediate measures have been taken to remove slush and silt from flood-hit houses and to rebuild the damaged ones.
Plans are on the anvil to provide interest-free bank loans to rebuild or refurnish the damaged houses in order to make them habitable, said the chief minister while briefing media persons in Thiruvananthapuram late on Thursday.
He announced that loans up to 100,000 Indian Rupees (1,428 U.S. dollars) will be provided to the female head of the family, and its interest will be borne by the government. A special food and rehab kit, including five kg rice, will be distributed to those who return home from relief camps, after proper sanitation.
Currently there are 1,040,688 people belonging to 278,781 families staying in nearly 2,774 relief camps, which are mainly set up at local schools and colleges.
Steps are being taken to restore electricity in the flood-hit area. Of the 50 substations, which were affected by the deluge, 41 started functioning by Friday. Of the 16,158 transformers affected during the flood, 13,477 have been recharged and of the 2.6 million power connections which were disrupted, over two million have been restored.
The sanitation drive is also on, and as many as 37,626 wells and 60,593 houses were cleaned till Thursday, and arrangements have been made to bury the animal carcasses in a bid to prevent spread of any epidemic.
Meanwhile, the state Fisheries Minister Mercykutty Amma announced a special package of 25 million Indian Rupees (around 357,000 U.S. dollars) to compensate the losses of fishermen who were engaged in the rescue operations. Notably, the first help to the flood victims came from the fishermen from nearby areas, before the military and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel could reach.
The partially damaged boats would be repaired on war-footing and completely damaged ones would be replaced within a prescribed timeframe, said the minister.