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Ernakulam

RGCA develops live feed for shrimp and ornamental fishes

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In a major breakthrough, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) has indigenously developed a top-quality live feed, which can phenomenally stimulate India’s shrimp and fish seed production and drastically reduce its dependence on imports from the USA and China.
 
Artemia, the most important live feed in shrimp and fish hatcheries, has been brought out by RGCA, the research wing of the Marine Products Export Development Agency (MPEDA), under the brand name ‘Pearl’.
 
The live feed, developed under the ‘Make in India’ programme, was formally launched by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at the just concluded fifth edition of MPEDA’s Aqua Aquaria India (AAI) in Hyderabad. 
 
“India currently imports around 300 tonnes of Artemia in dried cyst form worth Rs 300 crore annually, mainly from the USA and China. It is an important consumable in shrimp and fish hatcheries for the larvae of farmed aquatic organisms,” MPEDA Chairman K S Srinivas said.
 
“Artemia appears only in waters of high salinity. There is a huge potential for Artemia live feed in the country and its operations can be expanded on a large scale in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat,” he added.
 
India is looking to double its seafood exports from the present 7 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars by 2024 through the introduction of new varieties, and expansion of aquaculture cultivation to new areas. “Our indigenous Pearl brand of Artemia is a big step in realising this ambitious target,” Srinivas said
 
Describing the breakthrough as one of the most successful stories in the country’s aquaculture sector, Dr S Kandan, Project Director, MPEDA-RGCA, said, “The University of Kent in Belgium, an authority to test Artemia, has certified our product as the best of its kind in the world.”
 
The price of imported brands of Artemia costs around Rs 5,300 for 450 grams in India, whereas the ‘Pearl’ brand Artemia developed indigenously is priced much lower at Rs 3,500 for 450 grams. “The cost can be brought down further once the production increases,” he pointed out.
 
At present, Artemia is being produced in the facilities of MPEDA-RGCA at Tuticorin and Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu, with a total capacity of 500 kg per year.
 
Dr Kandan said the production of Artemia can become a source for additional income generation and employment for those, especially women entrepreneurs and Self Help Groups (SHGs), engaged in salt pans. “All this makes it an excellent commercially viable venture both for salt producers as well as new entrepreneurs. It has the potential to create employment opportunities and can also prevent outgo of precious foreign exchange,” he added.
 
At present, MPEDA-RGCA produces Artemia in 18 hectares. However, the country has a potential area of 12,000 hectares that could be utilized for its production. “Towards this, assistance from various state governments and more entrepreneurship is needed,” he said.
 
The Artemia project of MPEDA-RGCA located at Tharuvaikulam in Tuticorin is also producing and supplying WSSV (White spot syndrome virus)-free Artemia biomass to hatcheries of white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), ornamental fish and marine finfish.
 
RGCA has made breakthroughs not only in culture technologies of shrimps  but also in diversified species such as Seabass, Cobia, Pompano, Tilapia, Groupers, and Mud Crab. 
 
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Sreedharan asked to take charge of rebuilding Kerala flyover

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Former Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan was on Monday asked to take charge of rebuilding the Palarivattom flyover in Kochi which was closed down 30 months after it opened.
 
Speaking to the media here, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that he met Sreedharan earlier on Monday and that the latter was of the opinion that it would be best to rebuild it, rather than going for repairs and maintenance.
 
"Sreedharan has submitted his report and we have also received other details from experts from IIT-Chennai. The overall opinion was that it was best the present flyover should be knocked down and a new one should be built. The design, estimate and overall coordination of the new flyover would be done by Sreedharan," said Vijayan.
 
The 750 metre-long Palarivattom flyover in Kochi, was built at a cost of Rs 42 crore during the previous Oommen Chandy government and was supposed to stand for over 100 years. It was opened in October 2016 but after it started crumbling from May 1, 2019, it has been closed for traffic.
 
Vijayan has ordered a Vigilance probe into the entire construction. Last month, the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (VACB) arrested four top officials involved in the construction of the flyover.
 
IANS

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Kochi to host 22nd India International Seafood Show after 12 years

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The 22nd India International Seafood Show (IISS) will be held at Hotel Grand Hyatt, Kochi from February 7-9, 2020.
 
The event is being organised by The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, in association with the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI).
 
The biennial show, re-visiting Kochi after a span of 12 years, will provide an ideal platform for an interaction between Indian exporters and overseas importers of Indian marine products, a press release from MPEDA said here  today.
 
 It will provide an opportunity for display and sale for manufacturers and suppliers of processing machinery, packaging systems, processing ingredient dealers and cold chain systems.
 
It will also give an opening for service providers in the Logistics and Certifying/Testing segments.
 
According to the  release, IISS 2020 will highlight the technological advances and sustainable practices followed in seafood processing sector in the country.
 
"Indian seafood processors have made it big in the sustainable league with the cooperation from the fishing and farming sectors. In addition, the processing industry is always looking to upgrade its technological backup for value addition.
 
"The results are expected to increase the percentage of exports of value added products to a sizeable percentage in the next decade from the current level of 6% in the total exports," it said.
 
During 2018-19, India has exported more than 14, 37,000 tonnes of marine products worth over $ 6.70 billion as per provisional figures. With a multi-pronged strategy, addressing capture fisheries and aquaculture, it is expected to achieve an export turnover of $ 15 billion in the next five years.
 
Sustainable fishing methods, value addition and increased aquaculture production through diversification are expected to support the ambitious target set for exports, the release said.
 
IISS 2020 will have technical sessions by national and international expoerts.
 
There will be more than 250 stalls spread over 7,000 sq m, showcasing a wide range of products based on automated and IT aided technology, and energy efficient systems for value addition.
 
The delegates will include seafood processors, buyers and stakeholders from other related sectors representing firms from India and aboard.
 
It is also planned to have buyer delegations from countries focused on mutual tie-ups in the area of seafood processing and value addition, the release added.
 
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Kerala CM opens third stretch of Kochi Metro

File photo of Kochi Metro
File photo of Kochi Metro
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday inaugurated the third stretch of the Kochi Metro, more than two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the first one.
 
The chief guest of the function was Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who travelled with Vijayan on the new route.
 
The newly-inaugurated five-kilometre stretch, which extends from Maharaja's Junction to Thykoodam bridge, takes the total distance covered by the Kochi Metro so far to around 24 kms. Its remaining one kilometre stretch, in the first phase, is expected to be complete by January next year.
 
Once the remaining stretch is opened, the Kochi Metro will cover a distance of 25 kms from Palarivattom to Aluva reducing travel time by at least an hour or two.
 
Work on the Kochi Metro began in 2012 and is being overseen by E. Sreedharan, who also helmed the Delhi Metro project.
 
IANS
 

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Cabinet approves sale of 481.79 acres of land held by FACT to Kerala Government

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the sale of 481.79 acres of land held by the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT) to Kerala Government and utilisation of the sales proceeds by the public sector company.
 
The sale of 150 acres of land is at the rate of Rs 1 crore per acre in lieu of which the State Government has agreed to give free-hold right over 143.22 acres of land to FACT. The remaining 331.79 acres will be sold at Rs 2.4758 crore per acre as assessed by the District Collector of Ernakulam, an official press release said.
 
The Cabinet also approved the utilization of the sale proceeds by FACT to address its working capital deficiency, improvement of balance sheet and enabling the company to enhance physical and financial performance by implementing capacity expansion projects for sustainable growth.
 
This approval will help FACT to reduce the bank borrowings and to implement projects for enhancing fertilizer production capacity and upgrading logistics / raw material handling facilities, the release said yesterday.
 
The revival of FACT will create opportunities for expansion and diversification of the company and this, in turn, will help to generate more jobs, both directly and indirectly. The net effect will be a boost to the economy of the State of Kerala and improving fertilizer availability to South India, it said.
 
Reduction of dependence on the import of fertilizers and chemicals will facilitate resultant savings in foreign exchange to the country and also improve fertilizers and food security. Through the inclusion of fixed timelines for monitoring the implementation of the sale of land, the accountability of the management in achieving performance after the sale of land will be ensured, it said.
 
The unit has already switched over to cleaner LNG as feedstock and fuel, which will improve its energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, the release said.
 
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Kerala Government to hold Ascend 2019 to showcase its business-friendly initiatives

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In an initiative to position Kerala as a hotspot for attracting investments from India and abroad and setting up enterprises in a hassle-free manner, the State Government will organise Ascend 2019 here next month.
 
To be held on February 11 at the Lulu Bolgatty International Convention Center (LBICC) here, Ascend 2019 will showcase various administrative and policy reforms that the government says have considerably improved Ease of Doing Business in the state for the benefit of industry and trade.
 
The event is expected to be attended by Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and Ministers from various states, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, investors, policy administrators and other delegates from India and abroad.
 
In particular, the event will display two software applications: K-SWIFT (Kerala Single Window Interface for Fast, Transparent Clearances) and IBPMS (Intelligent Building Plan Management System), a press release issued by the Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion.
 
KSWIFT, an online clearance mechanism and Common Application Form (CAF) under Ease of Doing Business initiatives, have been developed to simplify and speed up issuance of clearances from Departments and agencies for setting up enterprises in the State.  The activities associated with KSWIFT and its integration with portals of 14 Departments and agencies concerned have already been completed. 
 
“The objective behind the launch of Ascend 2019 is to bring into sharp focus a governance that is simplified, transparent, facilitates business and investments with a string of industry -friendly measures,” the release said.
 
The event will have plenary addresses, panel discussions, break-out sessions and presentations on some of the best practices under the Ease of Doing Business initiatives.
 
According to the release, Kerala has, of late, launched policy and procedural reforms to position it on an equal footing amongst other top ranked States in the Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) ranking. It has simplified and rationalized the existing rules; introduced IT to make governance more efficient, transparent and user-friendly; and ensured swift and transparent ways of dealing with the industries, it said.
 
Listing out the other measures, it said the State Assembly unanimously passed an omnibus legislation—Kerala Investment Promotion Facilitation Act 2018 during May 2018, amending the existing seven Acts dealing with doing business in Kerala and investment-related issues. Further, it has reduced the transaction time for obtaining permits and licenses and also created an elaborate e-platform to largely eliminate the citizen-government interface, bringing out the transparency dimension in the entire exercise.
 
The Department of Industries & Commerce, Government of Kerala has also introduced the concept of "deemed approval" for everyone, who does not get the reply from various departments within the stipulated time frame. The new land allotment policy facilitates entrepreneurs in the state and the bureaucracy has been trained to implement the revised procedures.
 
“All these unprecedented measures have been taken to correct the skewed and distorted perception of the State and enormously increase the prospects of investments by the national and international investors,” the release added.
 
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Orthodox Church bishop Thomas Mar Athanasios dies after falling from train

Thomas Mar Athanasios
Thomas Mar Athanasios
Thomas Mar Athanasios, one of the most senior bishops of the Kerala-based Orthodox Syrian Church and the Metropolitan of its Chengannur Diocese, passed away after falling from a train near here early this morning.
 
He was 80.
 
According to various accounts, the bishop was standing near the door of the coach as he was to alight at the Ernakulam (South) railway station here.
 
He fell from the coach when the door suddenly slammed on him when the train was near the Pullepady bridge between Ernakulam South at about 5.30 am , the accounts said.
 
His body has been  kept at the Ernakulam General Hospital, sources said, adding that the arrangements for the funeral were yet to be finalised.
 
The bishop was on his way back from Vadodara in Gujarat, a city with which he  has had a long association, going back to the days before he became a priest.
 
Born  on April 3, 1938, he took his B. Sc. (Physics) from S. B. College, Changanacherry, B. Ed. from N.S.S. College, Changanacherry before completing his B. D. from the Serampore College, Calcutta. He later completed his Master of Education (M. Ed.) from M.S. University of Baroda.
 
He was the founder of the Basil School in Vadodara and went on to found six other schools in Gujarat.
 
He became the first Metropolitan of the Diocese of Chengannur on August , 1985. Apart from that, he served the church in  various other capacities.
 
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Kerala sees some normalcy, CM promises all help

Parts of flood-ravaged Kerala began limping to normalcy as rains kept away from the state for a second successive day on Thursday, but officials admitted there was a long way to go for the human suffering to abate.
 
Kerala flood survivors struggle to restart normal lives
 
 
Parts of flood-ravaged Kerala began limping to normalcy as rains kept away from the state for a second successive day on Thursday, but officials admitted there was a long way to go for the human suffering to abate.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan flew to a handful of over 3,000 relief centres housing over one million people and promised that his government would do everything possible to help them overcome their woes.
 
Vijayan took a helicopter to see for himself the conditions in the relief camps in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, which were hit hardest in the deadliest floods in the state in nearly a century.
 
Some 370 people have died since the monsoon rains began on May 29 and more than 1 million people were forced to take shelter in relief camps this month after torrential rains and the opening of the sluice gates of dams caused a deluge. 
 
"We will do everything possible to help the people. We know that when people reach their houses, there will be nothing (there). The government will play its role to help the people who are suffering," Vijayan told the media at Chalakkudy.
 
Thursday saw a lot of people from various camps returning to their homes but complaints surfaced that some tribal families from a camp in Wayanad were forced to leave.
 
"We were asked to leave despite telling them that we have no house to return to. Now we are staying in our neighbour's place," said Thanka, a tribal woman.
 
Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala, is back to 85 per cent of its old self, with more and more shops and offices that remained shut for almost a week reopening, residents said.
 
"The IT headquarters in Kochi, Infopark campus, saw more and more staffers back at work as offices reopened," said an IT professional.
 
"Likewise, traffic in some places was normal like it was prior to the floods," said a PR agency executive.
 
But a few kilometres away in Paravur, with thousands still in relief camps, the flood waters in low-lying areas had not drained completely.
 
The biggest problem appeared to be the failure to quickly dispose of carcasses of cattle and domestic pets and also the huge garbage strewn all across the previously submerged areas.
 
"The stink is killing us," complained a Paravur resident. "Despite several telephone calls to authorities, nothing is happening."
 
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In Thiruvalla town of Pathanamthitta district, offices and banks functioned near normally.
 
But many across Kerala complained that labourers were demanding as high as Rs 2,000 for a day's work to clean up water-logged homes.
 
Some people in central Kerala were lucky. Teams equipped with cleaning equipment came from the state capital and spruced up their homes.
 
Of the 52 ration shops in Thiruvalla, 27 had their stocks damaged. The government has pledged to provide them fresh stock in two days.
 
For a second day running, the Congress party blamed the Kerala government for the tragedy, with state President M.M. Hassan demanding a judicial probe into what he said was the indiscriminate opening of sluice gates of dams across the state leading to devastating floods.
 
But this was denied by Power Minister M.M. Mani who said there were several rounds of planning and discussions at various levels and that alerts were issued. "We did everything we could do."
 
Lashing out at the Centre, CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that clinging to rules to deny aid from foreign countries to flood-hit Kerala was nothing but an act of vengeance by the Centre.
 
The Modi government says a rule framed by the previous Congress-led UPA government prohibits New Delhi from accepting foreign aid following natural disasters.
 
The UAE, home to hundreds of thousands of Keralities, has offered Rs 700 million as relief to Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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Cochin airport to open on August 29

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The Cochin International Airport, shut on August 15 due to floods, will reopen on August 29, it was announced on Wednesday.
 
The airport had said on Tuesday that it would resume operations on August 26.
 
The airport was closed on August 15 after it was flooded when various dams in Idukki district opened their sluice gates in the wake of torrential rains.
 
Officials said the opening had been put off by three days as 90 per cent of the staff had been affected by Kerala's worst flooding in a century and they needed to report to work.
 
The airport was first closed on August 9, for a few hours, and then on August 15. The Cochin airport is one of three airports in Kerala and also the busiest.
 
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After seeing damaged house, Kerala man ends life

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Shocked to see his flood-ravaged house, a man committed suicide near Ernakulam in Kerala, police said on Wednesday.
 
Rocky, a casual labourer, left with his family after their house was submerged in water and took shelter in a relief camp.
 
According to the police, he left the relief camp to clean up his house but did not return.
 
On Wednesday morning, when his neighbours came searching for him, he was found hanging in his house. He is survived by his wife and two children.
 
Two other similar cases of suicide have been reported in the state. 
 
Health Minister K.K. Shailaja told the media here that people were undergoing severe mental tension and would require counselling. Free medicines would be provided for a month to all those who may need it. 
 
Around one million people are sheltered in over 3,000 relief camps in Kerala following the devastating floods -- the worst since 1924. The death toll, since the monsoon rains began on May 29, stands at around 370.
 
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Kerala flood toll 368, over 58,000 rescued, red alert in 3 districts

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.
 
The 33 deaths reported during the day occurred in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts.
 
Rejecting a demand from the Congress-led opposition and Kerala BJP to hand over the rescue operations to the Army, he said: "In a rescue operation, the most important thing is that it should be done only by the local authorities who are well-versed with the locality, and the Army and other agencies' help is sought and a combined operation is done."
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Saturday afternoon forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, are likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
While more than 58,000 people were rescued in areas like Ernakulam, Chengannur, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, there are still many more waiting to be rescued.
 
Vijayan said that the red alert has now been limited to Ernakulam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts only.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in the affected areas.c
 
Earlier in the day, Vijayan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting in Kochi that the death toll since May 29 had climbed to 357 and over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
 
Vijayan in the morning told the media that the situation is "very serious and grave".
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.
 
"There are many people waiting to be rescued in areas like Pandanad (near Chengannur) and I saw two bodies floating in the water. If there is any more delay in, things will take a turn for the worse. We are drinking rain water to keep us going...," said a resident of Pandanad.
 
On Saturday night, a 150-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team started rescue operations in and around affected areas of Chengannur.
 
Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, who was spearheading the rescue operations in Paravur in Ernakulam district, said that he stood before a rescue boat team with folded hands and they obliged and rescued several people.
 
National award winning actor Salim Kumar, after remaining holed up in his house along with 45 others for three days, was finally rescued by a fishing boat on Saturday evening.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha District Collector S. Suhas said since morning 150 boats including house boats have been engaged in rescuing people and "today (Saturday) we evacuated about 75 per cent of people who were waiting to be rescued".
 
"Around two lakhs people are now in various camps. This could well be the biggest rescue operation," Suhas said.
 
Journalist-turned-CPI-M legislator Veena George on Saturday turned critical "due to the way the government machinery in Pathanamthitta has been working".
 
"None has a clue of how many people have been rescued and how many are left to be rescued. There seems to be a disconnect in coordination of the operations," said George.
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting to return home.
 
However, a landslide near Nelliyampathy in Palakkad district has left around 1,000 people cut off from the mainland and the Army is working to clear the debris.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff failed to report for the duty due to flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
A special train will be back on the Kottayam sector on Sunday, after all services on this route were suspended for the past two days.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad-Aluva highway were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood death toll 357, 11 districts still on alert

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
The death toll due to torrential rains since August 9 -- the third spell during this year's monsoon in the southern state -- reached 194 with the casualties reported on Saturday in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Chengannur districts.
 
The India Meteorological Department forecast on Saturday afternoon that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, is likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and the neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
Barring Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasargode, the remaining 11 districts of Kerala continued to be on red alert following prediction of more rains.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in affected areas.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi. In a memorandum submitted to the Centre, Vijayan said that the death toll in rain-related incidents since May 29 had climbed to 357. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the affected areas.
 
Vijayan told the media here that the situation is "very serious and grave". 
 
"The death toll would have been higher, but for the work we did. Things are under control," said Vijayan, whose government was flayed by Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala for failing to take up rescue and relief work effectively.
 
Food Minister P. Thilothaman, camping at Chengannur, told the media: "The need of the hour is to provide food packets and drinking water to the people. About 15 small boats of the Navy are expected to join rescue and relief work. But, after dusk, no rescues are possible. Helicopters are also needed for faster evacuation."
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of calamity.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha Superintendent of Police A.P. Surendran said: "Things are moving fast on Saturday. Helicopters and more boats have been pressed into service. We are confident we will be able to rescue more stranded people."
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting return to their homes.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff faied to report for duty due to the flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday, with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad highway though were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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PM announces Rs 500 crore assistance to flood-hit Kerala

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced Rs 500 crore financial assistance for flood-ravaged Kerala where hundreds of people have died, lakhs have been rendered homeless and property worth millions of rupees has been destroyed in one of the worst floods and torrential rain in recent history.
 
Kerala reels under worst floods in a century
 
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced Rs 500 crore financial assistance for flood-ravaged Kerala where hundreds of people have died, lakhs have been rendered homeless and property worth millions of rupees has been destroyed in one of the worst floods and torrential rain in recent history.
 
The Prime Minister, who flew from Delhi on Friday night, made an aerial assessment of the damage caused by the floods. However, the survey was done only in some of the affected areas due to bad weather.
 
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have caused the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over three lakh people forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
 
The aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains was initially called off due to bad weather. 
 
Following the cancellation, Modi chaired a meeting with Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials and witnessed a video presentation of the widespread destruction across the state. 
 
"The Prime Minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced on August 12. He assured the state government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines would be provided, as requested," an official statement said.
 
Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). 
 
Insurance companies were also directed to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes. Directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojna for farmers. 
 
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The statement said villagers, whose houses have been destroyed in the floods, would be provided Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin houses on priority.
 
"The Prime Minister complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation. He observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority," the statement said.
 
The disaster has triggered an unprecedented rescue and relief operation led by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy along with teams of National Disaster Response Force involving about 1,300 personnel and 435 boats. 
 
Thirty eight helicopters have been deployed, apart from 20 aircraft used for ferrying resources.
 
The Army has deployed 10 columns and 10 teams of Engineering Task Force (ETFs) involving around 790 personnel.
 
The Navy has provided 82 teams, the Coast Guard 42 along with two helicopters and two ships.
 
Five Companies of paramilitary troops have also been deployed for rescue and relief measures. 
 
Nearly, 7,000 persons have been rescued since August 9 and some 900 given medical assistance. 
 
IANS
 
 

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Kerala floods: Modi's aerial survey called off

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains in Kerala was called off on Saturday due to bad weather, state government officials said.
 
Modi, who arrived in the state capital on Friday night, flew in to Kochi earlier in the morning.
 
The Prime Minister was to be accompanied in his survey by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran and other top state officials.
 
His visit comes at a time when the Congress-led opposition has been demanding immediate deployment of the Army since the state government has been unable to deal with the crisis.
 
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have resulted in the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over 3 lakh others forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
 
Before returning to Delhi from Kochi, the Prime Minister will chair a meeting to discuss the situation.
 
Rains subsided on Saturday morning resulting in the water level in Idukki and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts coming down.
 
But on Friday night, air lifting could not take place in Chengannur as the incessant rains continued in the region.
 
IANS

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll 174, red alert in 12 of 14 districts

 
Kerala reels under worst floods in a century
 
 
The death toll in rain-battered Kerala touched 174 on Friday as a red alert continued in 12 districts, with various agencies continuing the rescue operations after rains subsided to evacuate over 80,000 persons during the day.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media in the night that the situation arising out of unprecedented floods and subsequent havoc caused by turgid rivers and gushing waters in Kerala continues to be "grave".
 
He said that since August 8 -- when the rains began pounding the southern state -- as many as 3,14,391 persons have been lodged in 2,094 relief camps across Kerala.
 
"The worst affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur," Vijayan said after a review meeting with state officials.
 
Hundreds of defence personnel, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, helped by more than 20 helicopters, mounted search and rescue operations. Fishermen along with their motorboats too joined the humanitarian efforts.
 
More helicopters were pressed into service on Friday to fly sorties for rescue and relief.
 
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sanctioned the extra choppers, as people marooned in Chengannur and Chalakudy could only be airlifted to safety.
 
Waters from the Periyar river and its tributaries kept many towns in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts submerged. The worst affected include Paravur, Kalady, Chalakudy, Perumbavoor and Muvatupuzha.
 
"We have no food. There are 150 persons waiting to be rescued," rued a group of people who sent a video clip to TV channels from Chalakudy.
 
Thousands of people are still perched on high-rise buildings waiting to be rescued and taken to relief camps. Over 50,000 people are lodged in the Ernakulam and Thrissur camps alone.
 
Intensity of rains, however, decreased in several districts since Friday morning, leading to decrease in water level in three big dams in Idukki district.
 
The red alert in Kasargode and Thiruvananthapuram districts was withdrawn on Friday though the warning continued in other 12 districts in Kerala.
 
"On Saturday, 25 big Army boats will be deployed for evacuation in Kalady, Chengannur and Thiruvalla. More helicopters will be used for rescue and relief. We are confident that by Saturday, we will be able to rescue all those awaiting help," the Chief Minister said.
 
In the morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the flood situation with Vijayan over phone. He was slated to arrive in the state in the evening and undertake an aerial survey of the affected areas on Saturday.
 
Vijayan pointed out that 40,000 policemen, 3,200 firefighters, 18 teams of the Army, 28 of Coast Guard, 39 of NDRF and 46 of Navy were engaged in rescue operations. As many as 82,442 persons were rescued on Friday, Vijayan said.
 
"The Centre has allowed the use of the Cochin naval airbase for commercial operations of small aircraft, as the Cochin International Airport has been closed due to flooding. Punjab, Maharashtra, and Telangana have said they will provide food packets while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has pledged Rs 10 crore and other help," Vijayan said.
 
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Waters in Idukki and Wayanad areas and certain areas of Pathanathitta had receded, he said.
 
"One big problem that rescue teams are facing is that some people are unwilling to move to the relief camps. This is not good for their safety," the Chief Minister added.
 
Many people, especially in Kuttanadu area, refused to move to the camps, Finance Minister Thomas Issac said. Rising waters though forced them to change their plan.
 
Idukki's senior revenue official M.P. Vinod said that with lesser rains, water level in various dams in Idukki had come down.
 
"The biggest problem is disruption in telecommunication facilities... We are unable to communicate freely. All relief camps are functioning well and none has any complaint. In Munnar, I am given to understand that the Army is restoring damaged roads. Another huge problem is spread of fake news, which has to be tackled," Vinod said.
 
Helicopters loaded with food packets took off from the state capital and dropped these in central districts.
 
Authorities in worst-affected districts took help of big lorries to navigate flooded roads to reach those marooned in small pockets.
 
Amid the grim scenario in the state, there was good news: A pregnant woman Sajitha Jabeel airlifted on Friday morning by a Navy rescue team from a waterlogged place near Aluva delivered a baby boy at the Kochi Naval Base hospital soon after she was admitted.
 
Meanwhile, authorities in Ernakulam faced problems as a camp set up at U.C. College at Aluva was overcrowded with over 8,000 people.
 
Aluva legislator Anwar Sadat said shortage of fuel was hampering rescue as only boats were being pressed into service.
 
"Things are very bad. Aluva is completely marooned. People have no food or water. Our only solace is the numerous fishermen who are rescuing us.
 
"But now even their families are asking them to return. More defence personnel are required to speed up the rescue and relief," Sadat said while pleading for help.
 
The central district of Pathanamthitta is also facing destruction as overflowing Pamba river has inundated several towns. Ranni, Kozhenchery continue to be completely submerged.
 
Hundreds of fishermen from coastal villages of Thiruvananthapuram arrived at Pathanamthitta and began rescue even as helicopters too began to airlift affected persons to safer places.
 
On Friday, Achenkovil river overflowed into Pandalam town. A boat overturned while carrying out the rescue work, but luckily all on board were saved.
 
The Met office forecast lesser rains in Kerala till Saturday, which should bring some relief to the embattled authorities.
 
Rescue operations are progressing well in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad. In the last two districts, over 20,000 camps have been set up.
 
Major national and state highways, as well as rail traffic, continued to be disrupted in various parts of the state though more government buses were operated from various depots on Friday.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended even as long- distance trains were diverted via Nagercoil route.
 
Long queues were witnessed in front of petrol stations across the state following reports of shortage of automobile fuel due to floods.
 
Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media that even though one should not be finding faults with the state government, a lot needs to be done as thousands of people are still at risk.
 
"We do not know who is providing all these figures to the Chief Minister... there seems to be a lack of coordination as people are suffering in relief camps," he claimed.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll touches 114; armed forces mount massive rescue efforts

 
Worst flood in a century kills over 100 people in Kerala
 
 
With the death toll in the devastating floods rising to 114 in Kerala, and more than one lakh people living in relief camps across the state, the Centre on Thursday deployed all three wings of the armed forces in a massive rescue operation.
 
Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have cut off vast swathes of land in the state. The Kochi International Airport has been shut till August 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations in parts of the state.
 
On Thursday, reports of 47 deaths came in mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta where rivers are in spate since August 8.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. "The Centre has sanctioned more men and material," Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.
 
Thursday saw 10 more helicopters joining the existing fleet in the massive rescue operation while 40 additional teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a team of marine commandos also arrived.
 
Kerala University has postponed all examinations for graduate courses. The state government has also rescheduled Onam vacation for government schools from August 17 to August 29.
 
"Today there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF. With additional teams coming, we feel rescue operations would be speeded up," Vijayan said.
 
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continued to be the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people are trapped in their homes in the towns of Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
 
Around 50 people from Pathanamthitta were airlifted on Thursday and brought to the state capital.
 
Meanwhile, fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
 
"We have requested more fishing boats and fishermen who have experience in operating the boats. They have all started arriving in the Pathanamthitta and Chengannur areas," the Chief Minister said.
 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift some marooned families have failed.
 
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur is being regulated since last night.
 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair.
 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride.
 
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped, but operations resumed through the Alappuzha sector to the state capital, while the Kottayam sector remains closed. Likewise, the train services resumed operations through the Nagercoil sector.
 
The current crisis took a turn for the worse when, in a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala were opened on Tuesday following incessant rains in the higher reaches of the ghats.
 
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The famed tourist destination of Munnar continued to be in a bad shape, an official said. The Sabarimala temple also remained cut off by the river Pamba. 
 
The hilly district of Wayanad, connected to Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway, has also been badly hit with the overflowing Banasura Sagar dam waters creating havoc. Several landslides were reported in the area.
 
In Wayanad alone, more than 20,000 people have been put up in relief camps, authorities said.
 
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Miniter Pinarayi Vijayan and asked the defence forces to speed up rescue and relief operations.
 
"Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," the Prime Minister said, according to a statement.
 
Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha chaired a meeting on the Prime Minister's instructions and asked the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF to mobilise additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the relief measures in Kerala.
 
An official spokesperson said food packets and drinking water were rushed to the state.
 
A Navy spokesperson said the Southern Naval Command has suspended all routine training activities and shifted its focus to the highest state of readiness in the wake of the situation in Kerala.
 
The spokesperson said all available resources for rescue and relief efforts in Ernakulam and Trichur have been mobilised.
 
The heaviest rains and floods witnessed in the states since 1924 have caused massive destruction with damages to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 
 

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Thousands cry out for help in flood-hit Kerala

 
Kerala floods: Army builds 35-feet long bridge to rescue people
 
 
Thousands of flood-affected people in Kerala -- mostly in Pathanamthitta and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur -- have been stranded as rescuers battle heavy rains to reach out to them even as the death toll in the unprecedented floods rose to 88 on Thursday.
 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in the worst-hit southern district of Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift the marooned families have failed.
 
"My 90-year-old mother-in-law, sister-in-law who is a cancer patient, and other relatives are living in a precarious condition as water is rising not just outside their home near Thiruvalla but inside, too," a relative told IANS. 
 
"When we spoke to the authorities there, they said they are helpless as boats are not available," he said. 
 
CPI-M legislator from Chengannur Saji Cherian said: "Hundreds of people are eagerly waiting to be evacuated and the only way out is airlifting. Unless things move fast, this could turn out to be very serious."
 
TV channels in the state are showing live pictures of people crying for help. 
 
"We are standing on the terrace of our two-storied building near Chengannur and we are being told since last evening that we will be rescued soon. If help does not reach us in an hour's time, we may not be alive, as water level is rising menacingly" is how a family reacted on a TV channel on Thursday.
 
Similar scenes are being shown from Aluva and Chalakudy in central Kerala, after the dam waters from the Idukki district reached the Periyar river and its tributaries.
 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair.
 
The National Highway from Ernakulam to Thrissur is also choked as water has now flooded the main roads in many areas.
 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride.
 
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said with time running out, the need of the hour is larger deployment of Army rescuers.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala faces unprecedented crisis as flood toll rises to 67, state-wide red alert issued

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
With these deaths on Wednesday, including five of a family, the death toll since August 8 climbed to 67.
 
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam, by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours.
 
The state government declared a holiday on Thursday in all educational institutions.
 
Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex.
 
In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
 
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
 
The five family members died in Malappuram, crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged.
 
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.
 
Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.
 
The situation in Pathanamthitta district, especially Ranni and its surroundings areas, appeared to be bleak since late Wednesday evening as, local CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham, said things were turning from bad to worse and he was receiving frantic calls from his contituents in Ranni.
 
"Many of them are now perched on terraces as houses up to first storey are flooded and water level is still rising. The biggest problem is no power supply in many flooded areas, with mobile phones running low on batteries," said Abraham.
 
Media offices were also flooded with video messages from affected families for help.
 
Pathanamthitta District Collector P.B. Nooh said that a rescue operation involving 28 boats was going on and another 23 boats have reached the affected areas.
 
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift people to safety from some areas of Pathanamthitta district in the evening to the state capital.
 
More and more people poured into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
 
The Navy said that it had rescued more than 80 persons in Kerala. As part of its 'Operation Madad', the Southern Naval Command deployed 21 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats for the purpose.
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V. M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
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The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.
 
Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force arrived in the state capital in the night. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
 
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 75,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala faces unprecedented crisis: Flood toll rises to 58; state-wide red alert issued

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing the authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing the authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
With reports of the fresh deaths, the death toll since August 8 climbed to 58. 
 
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours. 
 
Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex.
 
In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
 
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
 
The deaths reported on Wednesday included those of five of a family in Malappuram who were crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged. 
 
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.
 
Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.
 
More and more people are pouring into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V.M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
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The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.
 
Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force were scheduled to arrive in the state capital in the evening. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
 
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift scores of people to safety in water-logged Pathanamthitta district on Wednesday evening.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 50,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

Kerala faces unprecedented crisis as flood toll rises to 47; Cochin airport shut

Unceasing heavy rains battered Kerala on Wednesday, killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to seek generous public contributions to battle the worst floods in nearly a century.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
Unceasing heavy rains battered Kerala on Wednesday, killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to seek generous public contributions to battle the worst floods in nearly a century.
 
Of the 14 districts, as many as 11 including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam are on red alert, an official euphemism to mean that huge devastation was expected. The Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after flood waters entered the complex. 
 
Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts are on orange alert, asking the authorities and people to be prepared as there was a higher likelihood of bad weather.
 
Those reported dead on Wednesday included a couple in Malappuram who were crushed after their house crumbled. Their six-year-old child is missing.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge as it crashed. A 70-year-old woman near Pathanamthitta was electrocuted as her house was submerged. Landslides in Malappuram claimed lives too.
 
In a first, sluice gates of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rains since late Tuesday. More rains have been forecast till Saturday.
 
More and more people are pouring into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts. 
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rains, submerging several low lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding in the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the river Pamba was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Vijayan took the Independence Day salute despite rains here and urged everyone to contribute generously to overcome the challenge of the floods and its destruction. 
 
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The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its water level crossed 140 feet.
 
People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
The Cochin International Airport was on Wednesday closed till Saturday afternoon after water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area.
 
Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"Why we decided to take this step is because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the waters to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rains predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close down the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up the area. Then only flights will resume. As of now we have decided to close down the airport till 2 p.m. of August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, besides being the busiest. 
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction. Over 50,000 people are in relief camps and the damage to crops and properties is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Heavy rains continue to lash Kerala, Cochin airport shut

Heavy rains again hit Kerala on Wednesday killing four more people and taking the death toll to 43 since August 8.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
Heavy rains again hit Kerala on Wednesday killing four more people and taking the death toll to 43 since August 8.
 
It has been raining heavily in several parts of the state since Tuesday evening. The authorities were forced to open 33 dams across Kerala.
 
Those reported dead on Wednesday were a couple in Malappuram who were crushed after their house crumbled. Their six-year-old child is missing.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge as it crashed. A 70-year-old woman in Ranni near Pathanamthitta was electrocuted as her house was submerged.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
Following flooding in and around the Cochin International Airport, all flights were cancelled till 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
 
The Met has forecast more rains till Saturday. 
 
Authorities are maintaining a close vigil especially in Idukki district as the shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were also opened at 2.35 a.m. after its water-level crossed 140 feet.
 
People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
Leaves of all revenue department officials have been cancelled, authorities said.
 
Rains which started on August 8 are said to have caused the worst damage to Kerala since 1924. Over 50,000 people are in relief camps and the damages to crops and properties is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Evacuation of 5,000 persons begins as water levels in Kerala dams rise

With increased water flow into the Idamalayar and Idukki dams in Kerala late Tuesday night due to incessant rains, authorities began to evacuate about 5,000 persons living in and around the two reservoirs, a police official said.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
With increased water flow into the Idamalayar and Idukki dams in Kerala late Tuesday night due to incessant rains, authorities began to evacuate about 5,000 persons living in and around the two reservoirs, a police official said.
 
He told the media that the decision was taken after heavy rains led to rise in Mullaperiyar dam water level.
 
"We have already asked people to move out, especially those living between Mullaperiyar and Idukki dams. The aged and the sick are being moved by government officials," the official added.
 
According to authorities, water level in Mullaperiyar dam was 138 feet on Tuesday night. If its shutters are opened, the water will flow to the Idukki dam, where water level stands at 2,397.42 feet.
 
Rains in Idukki yet again on Tuesday increased water inflow into the Idukki dam, forcing authorities in the night to open two of the five sluices shut down on Monday.
 
The Idukki dam was discharging 7.50 lakh litres of water per second, causing worry to authorities as more water in the Periyar river and its tributaries could lead to flooding of parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, as was seen in the past week.
 
Unprecedented rains and flooding -- the worst since 1924 -- have left at least 39 people dead and thousands in relief camps in Kerala. Many rued that they had lost virtually all their possessions after surging waters swept away their possessions.
 
Consequent to the heavy rains, 27 dams of the state had to open their shutters.
 
According to the state's preliminary estimates, the rains have caused loss of over Rs 8,000 crore in rain-affected districts.
 
For a second successive day, heavy rains lashed Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts on Tuesday, triggering fresh landslides and adding to the woes of the state.
 
Landslides were reported at two locations close to Thamarassery in Kozhikode, forcing authorities to restrict vehicular traffic between the northern districts of Kozhikode and Wayanad.
 
Similar reports came from Munnar, the famed hill station in Idukki district where the movement of vehicles on the main road from downtown Adimali has been limited to buses. Heavy rains have flooded the houses of those working in tea estates in Old Munnar town.
 
In Malappuram district, rains pushed up the water level in the Chaliyar river, forcing families living along its banks to shift to relief camps.
 
Wayanad, which has also been witnessing heavy rains, faced trouble again as the Banasurasagar Dam sluice gates were raised further.
 
Palakkad, which borders Tamil Nadu, also received more rains, aggravating the already flooded parts of the district. The situation worsened following the opening of the sluice gates of the Chulliyar Dam on Tuesday.
 
"I have lost whatever I had. I am a labourer and I am stuck at a relief camp. I went and saw my home... Water is still there, so I returned to the camp," said a man holed up in a camp in Palakkad.
 
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Parts of Kannur district bordering Wayanad, especially the hilly terrains, was battered by torrential downpour on Tuesday.
 
Officials said the situation remained grim in Kasargode district as some of the rivers were in spate.
 
In all the flood-affected districts, the authorities had been trying to send people back to their homes from the relief camps. But following the fresh rains, they have asked them to stay back for now.
 
Around 25,000 people in four districts are in relief camps. Power Minister M.M. Mani told the media here that the government was fully geared to help those who had been displaced.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that Kerala was passing through one of its worst times and urged the people to cooperate with the government in bringing relief to the suffering.
 
"Those who wish to contribute in kind should get in touch with the district authorities to find out what are the requirements," he said.
 
The Chief Minister also announced that state-sponsored Onam celebrations would be axed and the money meant for the festivities would be diverted for relief and rehabilitation. 
 
IANS
 

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Rains lash Kerala again as state copes with worst flooding in 94 years

 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
For a second successive day, heavy rains lashed Kerala's Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts on Tuesday, triggering fresh landslides and adding to the woes of a state battling the worst flooding in 94 years.
 
Landslides were reported at two locations close to Thamarassery in Kozhikode, forcing authorities to restrict vehicular traffic between the northern districts of Kozhikode and Wayanad.
 
Similar reports came from Munnar, the famed hill station in Idukki district where the movement of vehicles on the main road from downtown Adimali has been limited to buses. Heavy rains have flooded the houses of those working in tea estates in Old Munnar town.
 
In Malappuram district, rains pushed up the water level in the Chaliyar river, forcing families living along its banks to shift to relief camps.
 
Unprecedented rains and flooding -- the worst since 1924 -- have left at least 39 people dead and thousands in relief camps. Many moaned that they had lost virtually all their possessions after surging waters swept away whatever they possessed. 
 
Wayanad, which has also been witnessing heavy rains, faced trouble again as the Banasurasagar Dam sluice gates were raised further.
 
Palakkad, which borders Tamil Nadu, also received more rains, aggravating the already flooded parts of the district. The situation worsened following the opening of the sluice gates of the Chulliyar Dam on Tuesday.
 
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"I have lost whatever I had. I am a labourer and I am stuck at a relief camp. I went and saw my home... Water is still there, so I returned to the camp," said a man holed up in a camp in Palakkad.
 
Parts of Kannur district bordering Wayanad, especially the hilly terrains, was battered by torrential downpour on Tuesday.
 
Officials said the situation remained grim in Kasargode district as some of the rivers were in spate.
 
In all the flood-affected districts, the authorities had been trying to send people back to their homes from the relief camps. But following the fresh rains, they have asked them to stay back for now.
 
Around 25,000 people in four districts are in relief camps. Power Minister M.M. Mani told the media here that the government was fully geared to help those who had been displaced.
 
With rains showing no signs of stopping, the Idukki dam again saw its water level rising. It crossed the 2,397 feet mark. So was the water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam, where it crossed 136 feet mark.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that Kerala was passing through one of its worst times and urged the people to cooperate with the government in bringing relief to the suffering.
 
"Those who wish to contribute in kind should get in touch with the district authorities to find out what are the requirements," he said.
 
The Chief Minister also announced that state-sponsored Onam celebrations would be axed and the money meant for the festivities would be diverted for relief and rehabilitation. 
 
IANS
 

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Kerala situation very serious, says Rajnath Singh after aerial survey

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday described the situation in the flood-affected areas of Kerala as "very serious" and assured the state of all possible help from the Centre.
 
Kerala floods: Rajnath Singh, Pinarayi Vijayan conduct aerial survey
 
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday described the situation in the flood-affected areas of Kerala as "very serious" and assured the state of all possible help from the Centre.
 
Rajnath Singh, who arrived here on Sunday afternoon, made the statement after an aerial survey of Idukki and Ernakulam districts. He was accompanied by Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during the 
 
"The situation is very serious in Kerala. The Centre will extend all necessary support to the state in all respects," Rajnath Singh told the inmates of a relief camp near Kochi.
 
Vijayan said the affected persons need not worry as the state government will do everything to ensure them relief.
 
"Every loss that has been suffered will be addressed, including loss of houses, other properties and crops. Once you return to your homes, you will face a lot of problems. Necessary steps will be taken to clean up your homes," Vijayan said.
 
On the other hand, officials in Ernakulam and Thrissur said on Sunday that the flood situation was under control even as parts of both districts still remained submerged. The Periyar river water level had come down to enable some of the affected persons to return home, they said.
 
Idukki district, which recorded 90mm rainfall over 24 hours till Saturday morning, witnessed lesser rainfall at 40mm on Sunday morning, weather officials said.
 
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The water level in Idukki dam had decreased by three feet in the past 48 hours to stand at 2,398.66 feet on Sunday even though rain was recorded at a few places in and around the dam area during the day.
 
The situation in the hilly district of Wayanad -- which saw destruction of crops and properties -- looked grim on Sunday as intermittent heavy rains pounded the area, forcing authorities to ask those lodged in relief camps to stay back due to possibilities of landslides.
 
Idukki district authorities said that the decision to close down all five dam floodgates, opened after a downpour, will be taken on the basis of rainfall witnessed in the coming days.
 
Power Minister M.M. Mani said the closing of dam sluices will be taken after detailed discussions with officials concerned.
 
The Army's 'Operation Sahyog' continued in Kerala, with two Army columns undertaking relief and rescue operations in rain-battered areas of Aluva in Ernakulam district, and one column in Adimali in Idukki district.
 
A team of approximately 80 personnel of Madras Regiment from Pangode Military Station in the state capital completed a makeshift bridge in the Virinjapara-Mankulam area in Idukki district, since a concrete bridge there had been washed away in the floods.
 
The temporary bridge restored road connectivity to around 800 families living in the area.
 
IANS
 

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Water level at Kerala's Idukki dam further decreases

The water level in Kerala's Idukki dam further decreased on Sunday and now stands at 2,399.28 feet even as parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts still remained submerged.
 
Kerala CM Vijayan conducts aerial survey of flood-hit areas
 
 
The water level in Kerala's Idukki dam further decreased on Sunday and now stands at 2,399.28 feet even as parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts still remained submerged.
 
The district of Idukki recorded 90mm of rain for a period of 24 hours on Saturday morning which receded to 40mm on Sunday morning, according to weather authorities.
 
Even as the water level of the dam was now below the 2,400 feet mark, district authorities said that the decision to close down the five floodgates will be taken at a later date depending on the amount of rains.
 
At present, all the five floodgates of the dam are open and in a second, 7.50 lakh litres of water are being sent out to the Periyar river which touches parts of Thrissur and Ernakulam districts, causing floods resulting in the evacuation of over 10,000 people.
 
But officials in Ernakulam and Thrissur on Sunday said the situation was under control and the water level of the river has come down which may allow some people to return to their homes.
 
"As the first step for the families to return, various volunteers along with health officials will first reach the homes and clean up," a government official at a relief camp in Ernakulam said.
 
The situation in the hilly district of Wayanad, which has seen massive destruction to crops and properties, on Sunday looked a bit grim with intermittent heavy rains pounding the region.
 
The day's forecast points to more rains with chances of landslides and mudslips .
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is monitoring the situation and with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh who is slated to arrive here on Sunday afternoon, will take an aerial survey of the flood ravaged places.
 
IANS
 

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