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Thiruvananthapuram

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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Kerala: Musician Balabhaskar, wife injured in accident, child dies

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Popular musician and violinist Balabhaskar and his wife were seriously injured along with their car driver near here on Tuesday in a road accident that killed the couple's two-year-old child, police said.
 
The couple were driving from Thrissur after visiting temples. According to the police, the accident occurred at Pallipuram on the outskirts of the capital city as the driver could have dozed off, causing the car to crash against a wayside tree.
 
"When we reached the place, locals were trying to rescue the victims. We broke the windows and took out the child. We took everyone to the hospital where the child passed away," said Sub-Inspector of police Narayanan Nair.
 
According to sources close to the violinist, the child was born 16 years after the couple married.
 
Doctors said the violinist would undergo a surgery as he had injured his back. His wife Lakshmi and driver Arjun had suffered serious injuries.
 
The musician shot to fame when, as a 17-year-old, he composed music for a Malayalam film and and has scored music for several films.
 
IANS
 

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Pinarayi Vijayan returns from US after treatment

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan arrived here on Sunday from the United States after completing his treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
 
He left the state on September 2 along with his wife Kamala Vijayan and was treated at the famed Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
 
His trip was originally scheduled for August 19 for a period of 17 days, but it was postponed due to the heavy rains and subsequent floods that ravaged the state.
 
Before returning from the US, he had a meeting with the Kerala community and told them that he expects Rs 150 crore as contribution towards the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Migration from Kerala declined 11% in 5 years: Study

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Factors like the declining population in the 19-25 age-group and stagnant wages in the Gulf countries could be responsible for migration from Kerala declining 11 per cent between 2013 and 2018, a new study says.
 
"Of the 2.1 million emigrants (from Kerala in the Gulf and elsewhere), 15.8 per cent are females. However, there is a reduction of 3 lakhs migrants, which is one-tenth of the number of migrants in 2013. In 2018, we reached a stage where migrants figures showed a negative growth of 11.6 per cent," S. Irudayarajan, who led the Kerala Migration Survey (KMS) 2018 told reporters here on Monday.
 
The survery is the eighth in a series of studies on migration undertaken by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) since 1998. CDS is an internationally renowned, self-governing institution known for its cutting edge research in applied economics and topics germane to socio-economic development. It was established in 1971 by the late Professor K.N. Raj, considered the archistect of India's First Five-Year Plan (1951-56), and a former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, with whom he was associated for 18 years.
 
Explaining the reason for the decline Irudayarajan said it could be due to the cumulative effects of the demographic advances which have decreased the population in the migration-prone age-group (15-29 years) as Kerala attained replacement fertility level in around 1987.
 
"Wages in the Gulf economies have not improved after the global economic crisis. This has led to lower savings, de-motivating them to migrate. Another reason is wages in the domestic economy have increased compared to other states," said Irudayarajan.
 
Explaining further he said the price of oil, on which the Gulf economy is based has been declining since 2010.
 
"Although the last one year has seen a slight increase in oil price, the growth of the Gulf economy has suffered a major setback. Due to nationalisation policies such as Nitaqat and recently introduced family taxes in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies appear to be not that conducive for current and prospective migrants," Irudayarajan noted.
 
The study was conducted through a survey of 15,000 households from January 1-March 31 and was funded by the Kerala government's Department of Non-Resident Keralites' Affairs.
 
The study notes that 89.2 per cent of the total migrants from Kerala are in the Middle East countries.
 
In 2013 while there were 20.70 lakh migrants in the Middle East, the figure fell to 18.93 lakh in 2018.
 
The remaining 10 per cent of the emigrants are concentrated in the other countries like the USA, the UK, and Australia.
 
In 2013 there were 8.9 lakh in the UAE while in 2018 it stands at 8.30 lakh, followed by 5.22 lakhs in Saudi Arabia and falling to 4.87 lakh in 2018.
 
In Qatar, there has been an increase from 1.06 lakhs in 2013 to 1.86 lakhs in 2018 but in Bahrain there has been a fall from 1.49 lakhs in 2013 to 0.81 lakhs in 2018.
 
The study found that one in every fifth household in Kerala has a migrant, while among religious groups, one in every third household is a Muslim, one in five household is a Christian and one in 10 households is a Hindu.
 
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The estimated total annual remittances to Kerala have been placed at Rs. 85,092 crore.
 
"Of the total remittances at state level, Malappuram district receives 21 per cent, followed by Kollam (15 per cent), and Thrissur (11 per cent)," added Irudayarajan.
 
Concluding his findings, he said the long history of migration from Kerala to the Gulf is in its last phase.
 
"However, remittances to the state have increased. This is due to the fact that Keralites' in the Gulf have climbed the social ladder and are earning higher wages, allowing them to remit more. Thanks to the weakening rupee, families remit more. The KMS 2018, has also confirmed that the migration from Kerala is falling and return of migrants is on the rise," added Irudayarajan.
 
On the study of return migrants as estimated by KMS 2018, it is 1.29 million, which is about 60 per cent of the number of emigrants.
 
"The KMS 2018, would be an invaluable pointer for further policy formation in terms of international migration and also employment schemes of the government. The last 20 years of KMS proved that almost 40 per cent of total remittances to the state were used by emigrants in land, housing and its assets. 
 
"With the recent devastating floods, and the massive loss of physical capital and land value, migration can be conjectured to increase at least in the short run. We expect the trend will change after the floods as migration will play major role as a livelihood option for the New Kerala, where we expect further migration and remittances. This requires another quick assessment by the Government of Kerala," said Irudayarajan.
 
IANS

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Law should take its course in nun rape case: Bishops' body

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Denying that it wanted a Bishop accused in the rape of a nun to step down, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) on Sunday said that law should take its course in the matter.
 
"(Our) silence should in no way be construed as siding with either of the two parties. We have learnt of certain statements attributed to our President, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, that (accused) Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese should step down," CBCI Secretary General Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas said in a statement here.
 
"We wish to clarify that he has made no such statement and wishes to disassociate himself from any such statement. Bombay Archdiocese spokesman's comments are in his personal campacity and have to be taken as such. 
 
"We reiterate what we said earlier: The CBCI has no jurisdiction over individual Bishops. Besides, a police probe is on. One party has approached the Kerala High Court... Church authorities will take a decision once police file a definitive report after investigations," the statement added.
 
He said they were expressing their "distress" regarding developments regarding accusations against Mulakkal.
 
The CBCI statement comes after Kerala Police asked accused Bishop Mulakkal to appear before a probe team on September 19. 
 
Mulakkal stepped down as Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese on September 15, handing over temporary charge of the diocese to Father Mathew Kokkandam.
 
A Kerala nun had accused Mulakkal of repeatedly raping her between 2014 and 2016. Five other nuns of the congregation have supported her claim and along with a section of the laity are holding a protest at Kochi, which continued for the ninth day on Sunday.
 
An FIR was registered against the Bishop, with the nun and other convent inmates giving detailed statements running into 114 pages.
 
Mulakkal has denied wrongdoing and termed it a "conspiracy" against him.
 
IANS
 

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Over 5 lakh Kerala families get flood compensation

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The Kerala government will complete on Thursday giving away compensation of Rs 10,000 each to families affected by the flood disaster, Minister for Industries E.P. Jayarajan said on Wednesday.
 
The Minister announced this after a meeting of the cabinet sub-committee formed to oversee the flood rehabilitation operation.
 
"By yesterday (Tuesday), 5.01 lakh families had been given Rs 10,000 each and the remaining 96.500 families will receive the money by tomorrow (Thursday). The distribution of kits containing essential items to the families have been completed," he said.
 
Heavy rains received in three segments from May 29 claimed 491 lives, with 14 persons still missing.
 
At the height of the deluge, there were 14.50 lakh people in over 3,000 relief camps. A total of 4,778 persons are still housed in 120 relief camps.
 
The Minister said that by now 6.89 lakh homes had been cleaned.
 
"The local self governments have been doing this. What remains to be cleaned are 3,501 more homes. A total of 3.19 lakh wells have also been cleaned and 4,213 tonnes of bio-degradable waste have been disposed of," said Jayarajan.
 
Meanwhile, the government has sanctioned an interest free loan of Rs 1 lakh to buy household appliances through the Kudhumbhasree programme.
 
"We expect a detailed report from agencies like World Bank, ADB... Once they submit their reports, we will know how much aid these agencies will be giving," added Jayarajan.
 
IANS
 

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Controversial bishop, accused of rape, asked to appear before Kerala Police

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The Kerala Police on Wednesday sent a notice to controversial Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, who has been accused of rape by a nun, asking him to appear before them on September 19.
 
A Kerala nun has accused him of repeated sexual abuse between 2014 and 2016.
 
"We reviewed the entire case today (Wednesday) and there are contradictions in the statements of the victim, the accused and the witnesses. So, we have asked the bishop to appear before us on September 19, when the Investigation Officer would question him. 
 
"The contradictions in the statements have to be cleared, or else there could be issues," Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Sakhre told the media in Kochi soon after a review meeting on the case.
 
"Security to the complainant and the witnessess is there and we have registered cases against the death threats that the nuns have allegedly received," added Sakhre.
 
State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, deputising for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is off to the United States for treatment, told the media in the state capital that the government is with the victim.
 
"No one needs to be worried for anything and it's unfortunate that nuns have had to stage protests. We all know that the probe has been going on for a while now, but since it has to be submitted to the court, there just can't be any errors," said Jayarajan.
 
On Wednesday, a day-long protest before the state secretariat in Kochi was organised by the Joint Christian Council, whose indefinite relay fast in the state capital entered its fifth day.
 
In the state capital, joining the protesters was former state Congress President V. M. Sudheeran, who said the protests should not be mistaken as one against the Christian community.
 
"The police itself said that all the evidences are there with them in the case, then why are they hesitant to go forward? The state police chief is unable to go forward in this case and it's most unfortunate," said Sudheeran.
 
In Kochi, Wednesday saw more and more leaders -- political and otherwise -- visiting the protest venue. They included top political leaders from various parties, civil society members and film personalities.
 
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Coming to the defence of Mulakkal was his own diocese, who in a statement said that this is nothing but a conspiracy hatched against the bishop.
 
"This is just an allegation... The bishop had visited the nun's home for a function and she looked very happy also. According to her complaint, the previous day the bishop had abused her. If that were the case, could she be happy? Moreover, all the complaints surfaced after a lady came with a complaint against the nun," says the statement.
 
Popular Malayalam film personality Joy Mathew led a protest in Kozhikode against the callousness of the authorities in the case as the nun is yet to get justice.
 
Incidentally, the Kerala High Court will on Thursday look into an affidavit that asked the state government to detail the steps taken on the complaint of the nun.
 
"All the details in the case would be presented before the high court on Thursday in the affidavit," said Kottayam Superintendent of Police who is leading the probe.
 
It was in June that the victim alleged that Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar had sexually abused her several times between 2014 and 2016.
 
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent. However, Mulakkal has denied any wrongdoing.
 
IANS
 

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4,778 people still in 120 relief camps in flood-hit Kerala

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A month after Kerala was devastated by unprecedented rains and floods, 4,778 people are still in 120 relief camps, authorities said on Tuesday.
 
A total of 1,738 persons are in 55 camps in Thrissur district and 1,702 in Alappuzha.
 
According to the Disaster Management State Control Room, the rains and floods have claimed 491 lives since May 29 while 14 persons remain missing.
 
At the height of the deluge last month, there were 14.50 lakh people in over 3,000 relief camps.
 
The worst hit districts included Alappuzha, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Wayanad besides parts of Kannur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kottayam and Kollam.
 
While Kasargode district was virtually left untouched, the capital district suffered minor damage.
 
IANS
 

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Shutdown in Kerala to protest fuel price hike

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A state-wide shutdown called by Kerala's ruling Left and the Congress-led opposition to protest rising fuel prices was observed on Monday.
 
While public vehicles remained off the roads in the state, private vehicles were seen plying in many places. Shops, markets and establishments remained shut.
 
"This is a protest against the wrong policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has also led to the rupee reaching record lows. Under Modi, the country has reached a low," Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said while inaugurating his party's protest in Kochi.
 
In Kollam, agitated Congress workers protested outside the Head Post office, demanding that it should be closed.
 
In the state capital, the IT campus at Technopark is functioning and the ISRO units are also working as normal.
 
There was a complete shutdown in Kasargode, the town that shares a border with Karnataka, as interstate buses kept off the roads.
 
While the Congress workers are out on the streets, the ruling Left supporters appear to maintain a low profile and have stressed that relief operations in flood-affected areas will go on unaffected.
 
IANS
 

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Cricketer Sanju Samson to wed in December

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Kerala cricketer Sanju Samson announced on Sunday that he is set to marry his college classmate in December.
 
The 23-year-old wicket-keeper batsman made the announcement on Facebook. 
 
Posting his photo and that of his fiancee Charu, he captioned: "...11.11 p.m. on 22nd August 2013 was when I sent a 'Hi' to her. From that day till now, almost five years I have waited to put a picture with her and tell the world that I am in love with this special girl. 
 
"We spent time together, but couldn't walk together publicly. But from today we can. Thanks a lot to our parents for agreeing to this happily."
 
Charu's father B. Ramesh Kumar, a senior journalist here, told IANS that the marriage would be held on December 22.
 
"Both were classmates at the Mar Ivanios College here. The marriage has been fixed with the blessings of both the families," said Kumar.
 
Charu is presently pursuing her post graduation. Samson played for Rajasthan Royals in this year's Indian Premier League (IPL).
 
IANS
 

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Kerala sets up team to assess biodiversity loss

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Even as the Kerala government has appointed a team of experts to study the damage caused to the biodiversity due to torrential rains and floods, the Centre on Friday reiterated its commitment to extend all possible help to the battered state.
 
A 100-member expert team under the Kerala State Biodiversity Board has been appointed to study the damage caused to Kerala's biodiversity and submit its report in a month's time, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.
 
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda again assured the state of central help. 
 
"It's a moment of sorrow, and the government of India has stood by the state. Whatever we can do, and what more needs to be done, will be done," said Nadda, who visited the Chalakkudy Taluk Hospital on Friday and a relief camp.
 
The hospital had suffered considerable damage in the floods, the worst to hit the state in nearly a century. 
 
The Union Minister's visit comes amid an alert in the state against leptospirosis (rat fever), with authorities urging 20 lakh persons to take preventive steps after more than 100 persons tested positive. Over a dozen persons have died in Kozhikode, which is the worst affected.
 
Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, the de facto Chief Minister after Vijayan left for the US for treatment, told IANS on Thursday that there are 2,267 families still housed in 146 camps in the state. The maximum camps are in Alappuzha district. 
 
Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan from Paravoor in Ernakulam said on Friday that there were around 125 families in two camps in the district.
 
"We provided relief kits to 50,000 affected families when they left the camps. Those lodged in the camps now have no homes to return to since these were completely damaged by floods," said Sateeshan.
 
Vijayan told the Assembly on August 30 that torrential rains and subsequent floods from May-end till mid-August had claimed 483 lives whereas 14 persons were reported missing.
 
The worst affected districts were Alappuzha, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, and Wayanad, besides parts of Kannur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kottayam and Kollam. Kasargode district remained virtually untouched, while Thiruvananthapuram recorded miniscule damage.
 
IANS

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Kerala government sticks with KPMG for rebuilding state

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The Kerala government on Wednesday decided that despite the Congress-led opposition's opinion about KPMG, an international professional service company, selected as consultant partner for rebuilding the flood-ravaged state, it will stick with them, a minister said.
 
Industries Minister E. P. Jayarajan, deputising for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is presently in the US for treatment, told the media here that KPMG has already started its work in the state.
 
"They (KPMG) are known for their expertise. They are presently conducting a study to help us rebuild after the floods devastated the state. 
 
"They are doing it for free, so what's the issue. When such an organisation is helping us for free, what we should now do is, wait for their report. Once they submit it, then we will take a call," said Jayarajan.
 
Earlier this week the Congress party expressed strong reservation about selecting KPMG as the consultant partner even as they faced cases in a few countries where they were involved in various programmes.
 
Vijayan said on August 31, the KPMG has agreed to provide free consultancy service and would be the consultant partner for rebuilding Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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Flood-hit Kerala axes all functions for a year

The Kerala government on Tuesday announced that it would not host any function that involves huge sums of money for a year and instead divert the amount for flood relief.

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The Kerala government on Tuesday announced that it would not host any function that involves huge sums of money for a year and instead divert the amount for flood relief.
 
The cancelled events include the much-acclaimed International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), held every December, besides state school youth festivals.
 
Officials say Kerala has suffered damage amounting to Rs 30,000 crore in the worst floods to hit the state in a century.
 
A government order said that no government department would host any festival for a year.
 
The funds earmarked for all such cancelled events would be diverted to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
 
However, State Culture Minister A.K. Balan said there was some disconnect in the order.
 
"There needs to be more clarity about this order and a letter has been sent to the Chief Secretary for the same. There was no decision taken by the Committee of Ministers looking into rebuilding the state," Balan told the media.
 
Veteran Director Kamal, who is also the chairman of the academy that organises the IFFK, said the order had come as a surprise as he had discussed about the conduct of the film festival with Balan in the morning.
 
"We can hold this festival without any celebrations and utilize our own funds," said Kamal.
 
Till Monday, the CMDRF had received Rs 1,036 crore. Kerala Ministers are soon leaving for 14 countries to raise money from public contributions.
 
IANS

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IMD says advance warnings were issued for intense rain spells over Kerala

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said it had issued all necessary severe weather warnings to Kerala about intense rain spells in August through its office in Thiruvananthapuram.
 
As per the regular practice, warnings are uploaded in IMD's local website (www.imdtvm.gov.in) every day. District wise rainfall forecast along with warnings are also uploaded and updated thrice daily on the website.
 
Nowcasts for next 3 hours are also issued through SMS to SDMA, SEOC, District collectors using Doppler Weather Radar Data. Weather Forecasts for 5 days and outlook for subsequent two days, which also include heavy rainfall warning and wind warning, are sent through e-mail to Chief Secretary, Addl. Chief Secretary (Revenue & Disaster Management), SDMA, Navy, Special Marine enforcement, Print and electronic media.
 
High level officials of Kerala Government were briefed in a meeting convened by Chief Minister on August 9 about the strong monsoon conditions with heavy rainfall activity. Also the Addl. Chief Secretary (Revenue & Disaster Management) was briefed orally over phone on all occasions. Member Secretary, SDMA was briefed on August 10. District Collectors of Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram were briefed on August 14. Briefings were sent to media also during this period.
 
The IMD said it had, in a press release issued on August 2, indicated that the rainfall over ‘extreme south peninsula’ shall be above normal during August 9–15. In the subsequent press release issued on August 9 also, the same statement was repeated, along with a date-wise indication of likely widespread rainfall with isolated heavy rainfall over Kerala re-starting from August 13. These press releases had been communicated to the Chief Secretaries of all the States via E-Mail and also posted on the IMD website.
 
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Orange alerts (prepare for action) were issued with effect from August 6 applicable for August 8 onwards and Red alert (for action) were issued with effect from August 9. Further, for showing the severity of rainfall intensity expected, heavy (7-11 cm in 24 hrs) to very heavy (12-20 cm in 24 hrs) rainfall warning for Kerala state was issued with effect from August 10 for August 14 with Orange Alert to Idukki and Alappuzha, Red alert to Wayanad district. On August 1, 1heavy to very heavy rainfall warning extended for August 15 also with orange alert to Idukki and Wayanad districts.
 
On August 12, Red alert was issued for Idukki effective from August 14. Heavy to very heavy rainfall warning was issued for August 14-15 with red alert and orange alerts for most of the districts. On August 15, extremely heavy (>20 cm in 24 hrs) rainfall warning was issued for Kerala state with red alert to all districts for August 16 and red for 7 districts and orange for the remaining 7 districts for August 17. It may be noted that the Red alert is the highest alert for issuing heavy rainfall warning and no other alerting criteria than this is adopted by IMD.
 
The weather bulletins issued from Delhi office also carried warnings for Kerala in ‘Orange’ and ‘Red’ colours about 2-3 days in advance of the event, advising the Disaster managers to be alert and initiate action respectively.
 
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Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan heads to US for treatment

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan left for the United States from here on Sunday for medical treatment.
 
He is being accompanied by his wife, Kamala Vijayan.
 
His trip was initially scheduled for August 19 for a period of 17 days, but it was postponed due to the heavy monsoon rains and subsequent floods that ravaged the state.
 
According to informed sources, Vijayan is expected to return by the end of this month.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Kerala flood-affected advised to take treatment for leptospirosis

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With the flood rescue operations now over, health authorities in Kerala on Friday asked all those who came in contact with the flood waters to take preventive action for leptospirosis, mostly spread by rodents.
 
A. P. Suganan, an expert from the Indian Council of Medical Research called in following the floods in Kerala, told reporters here that as a matter of caution, all those who came in contact with flood waters -- including those engaged in rescue operations -- should take the preventive treatment.
 
"There is no vaccine for this, instead everyone should take doxycycline once weekly for six weeks," said Suganan.
 
According to him and Kerala health officials, around two million people in the state would have come in contact with the flood waters and hence all of them should take the preventive action.
 
Health experts have pointed out that so far 15 deaths have been reported, of which two were confirmed cases of leptospirosis.
 
"The need of the hour is that anyone, who shows symptoms or has fever, should take medical help," said Suganan.
 
The health authorities have assured that there is adequate stock of all medicines.
 
"As on date, if we look at the figures of people suffering from fever and other communicable diseases, the number is much less than what it was the same time last year. There's no need to worry at all," said a top state government official.
 
IANS
 

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Keep the faith, together we will rebuild Kerala: Nita Ambani

Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita M Ambani interacting with children during a visit to Pallipad village in Alappuzha district, one of the worst affected areas during the recent floods in Kerala, on August 30, 2018.
Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita M Ambani interacting with children during a visit to Pallipad village in Alappuzha district, one of the worst affected areas during the recent floods in Kerala, on August 30, 2018.
Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita Ambani met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here today and handed over to him a cheque for Rs. 21 crore for flood relief operations in the state, which was hit by the worst deluge in nearly a century earlier this month.
 
The Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL),  has also distributed relief materials worth Rs. 50 crore to the flood victims.
 
During  the meeting with Mr. Vijayan, Ms. Ambani expressed solidarity with the people of the state and promised to help create critical infrastructure.
 
Ms. Ambani also visited Pallipad village in Alappuzha district, one of the worst affected areas during the floods, to get a first-hand feel of the situation.
 
The visit was aimed at understanding the exact needs of the people and facilitate long-term rehabilitation work.
 
Assuring the displaced people of timely relief, Ms. Ambani said, “Reliance Foundation is committed to support the people of Kerala in this time of crisis. We will be there for all of you, and together we will overcome this calamity. Keep the faith. God’s Own Country will soon regain its grandeur.”
 
A team of 30 people from Reliance Foundation (RF) was deployed for rescue work from August 14, 2018. Reliance Foundation Information Services in coordination with the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) undertook rescue operations in conducting relief and rescue operations through its toll free helpline and was successful in rescuing over 1600 people.
 
RF undertook field operations in six districts:  Ernakulam, Wayanad, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Idukki and Pathanamthitta. The focus was on providing materials for immediate requirement. This was done through Reliance Retail which supplied ready-to-eat food, glucose and sanitary napkins to 160 relief camps run by the government. Besides rations kits, clothing kits and utensil kits have been distributed in these areas supporting about 70,000 people.
 
Keeping in mind the possibility of outbreak of epidemics, RF set up medical camps in Wayanad district; conducted multiple livestock camps in Wayanad and Alappuzha districts; and supplied medicines to the government for use by district authorities.
 
Pallipad is among the worst affected villages in Alappuzha district.  Situated 36 kms from the district headquarters – Alappuzha, the village has 6430 households (population 24640). The government, trusts and NTPC have set up 17 camps across the village in schools, temples and in NTPC pump house ground. Reliance Foundation is supporting 3,500 families with cloth kits in close coordination with the local government representatives in the village.
 
Across the worst affected six districts, RF has supported with dry ration kits - sustaining a family for 15 days, a bedding kit for a family of three, sanitary kit to clean and disinfect the houses and utensil kit for a family to restart their kitchen over the next seven days. Moving forward from the relief stage, RF is also working with the community in identifying rebuilding critical infrastructure in the villages such as schools, and so on.
 
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483 dead, flood loss more than Kerala's annual outlay: Vijayan

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The Kerala flood disaster has claimed 483 lives and the estimated value of destruction "is more than the annual outlay of our state", Chief Minister Pinarayi Vjayan said on Thursday.
 
Initiating the debate at a special one-day session of the Assembly to discuss the disaster, Vijayan said 14 people still remained missing although flood waters have receded from almost all parts of the state. 
 
He added that at the height of the floods, the worst to hit the state in a century, there were 14.50 lakh people in more than 3,000 relief camps.
 
"The latest figure is -- there are 59,296 people in 305 relief camps. A total of 57,000 hectares of agriculture crops have been destroyed. An approximate estimate of the loss is more than the annual outlay of our state," he said.
 
The Chief Minister said the Meteorological Department gave out adequate warnings regarding the rains but the unprecedented showers led to a deluge. 
 
The predicted rains from August 9 to 15 were 98.5 mm but the state got 352.2 mm, he said.
 
Hitting out at the government, senior Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, whose constituency Paravur in Ernakulam district was submerged, called it "a man-made tragedy".
 
"This is not a natural calamity, instead a man-made tragedy due to the faulty handling of the dam water management. Dams in the state were overflowing and the primary reason for this tragedy is the way the dam waters were indiscriminately let out," he said. 
 
"Several dams were opened at midnight. The need of the hour is to fix responsibility and find out who all are responsible for this."
 
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Thomas Chandy, a former Minister who represents Kuttanadu in Alappuzha, one of the worst hit districts, asked Vijayan to release the Rs 10,000 that the government had promised as interim relief to every family without delay.
 
K.M. Mani, a veteran opposition legislator, applauded the rescue efforts but said the tragedy could have been avoided had there been a proper dam management policy.
 
"Now that the tragedy is over, rehabilitation work has to take a systematic approach," he said.
 
Mani added that money pouring into building a new Kerala should be collected in a separate account. 
 
"We all know what happened when Ockhi struck and still there has been no proper accounting of the money which is kept in the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. So we should have a separate account."
 
The session saw a tough stand taken by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) when it did not allow two of its legislators, Raju Abraham and Saji Cherian, to speak in the Assembly while permitting nine other legislators to do so.
 
According to informed sources, the Chief Minister was cut up with the two MLAs as they went public criticising the rescue operations and also the way the dams were opened, sending scores of villages and towns under water particularly in the central districts.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala Assembly to meet on Wednesday discuss floods

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The Kerala Assembly will meet on Thursday for a day to discuss the worst floods in a century to hit the state killing hundreds, displacing thousands and causing widespread destruction.
 
The session will start at 9 a.m and will close at noon but given the gravity of the situation the time schedule may be extended.
 
The Congress-led opposition has urged Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan to see that the treasury and opposition benches be given 150 minutes and all the legislators representing the affected places should be given an hour to speak.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will place before the house a resolution of the government.
 
In the 140-member Assembly, it will be left to the lone BJP legislator O. Rajagopal to defend the Modi government, which has been accused by the Left and the Congress of giving Kerala a raw deal after the disaster.
 
The opposition blames faulty dam water management for the unprecedented floods. 
 
They have demanded that a separate account be opened to receive the contributions for rebuilding Kerala. But Vijayan has shot down the idea.
 
Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 417 people have died. At one point, more than one million people took shelter in relief camps.
 
IANS
 

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Vijayan asks diaspora to donate for Kerala flood relief

Admitting that the flood damage was much more than what was estimated, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday urged the Kerala diaspora to contribute a month's salary for the state's reconstruction.

 
Keralites return to their homes as flood waters recede
 
 
Admitting that the flood damage was much more than what was estimated, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday urged the Kerala diaspora to contribute a month's salary for the state's reconstruction.
 
Vijayan's comments came as the total number of people in relief camps, which stood at 14.5 lakh on August 21, came down to 1.97 lakh on Tuesday as thousands returned to their once flooded homes after they were cleaned up.
 
"The Kerala diaspora is already coming out in a big way to help us. What we want is a proper system in place to channelise their resources... I call upon all the diaspora to contribute a month's salary over a period of 10 months," he told the media here.
 
The government's priority was to source funds for rehabilitation of the hundreds of thousands displaced and badly hit by the worst floods in Kerala in nearly a century, he said.
 
"The damage that has taken place is much more than we have estimated and hence funds have to come. But given the response, we are confident our people will rise to the occasion and come to our help." 
 
Vijayan urged businessmen to think of giving a portion of their earnings to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
 
All schools in Kerala will reopen after the Onam holidays on Wednesday barring those in Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts which have been turned into camps to house those forced to flee their submerged homes.
 
"Strict action will be taken against all those who dispose waste into lakes and rivers during cleaning operations," added Vijayan.
 
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Tuesday saw a massive cleaning drive led by Finance Minister Thomas Issac and PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran.
 
"This is perhaps the biggest cleaning drive that has commenced as people have come in huge numbers from various parts of the state to clean up homes in Kuttanadu area," said Issac.
 
More than one lakh people in Alappuzha continue to be in relief camps, where the cleaning drive is going on on a massive scale.
 
On Tuesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi arrived here and went around relief camps in Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam districts and promised that the Congress would do its best to ease people's sufferings.
 
The party has decided to build 1,000 new homes through sponsorship. Gandhi handed over the first few houses in Alappuzha besides thanking the fishermen who played a key role in the rescue operations.
 
Chief Secretary Tom Jose said discussions would be held on Wednesday with World Bank officials on the impact of the floods.
 
Forest and Animal Husbandry Minister K. Raju on Tuesday said that all those who lost goats, cows and buffaloes would be compensated ranging from Rs 3,000 and Rs 30,000.
 
"The National Diary Development Board is also extending its support and it has been decided to provide cattle feed to farmers," said Raju.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala CM's call to donate month's salary for flood relief gets good response

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's appeal to people to contribute a month's salary in the wake of the flood disaster has elicited a good response.
 
Governor P. Sathasivam said on Monday that the appeal was reasonable.
 
"As the first citizen of the state, I have decided to do it and will hand over the cheque to the Chief Secretary," said Sathasivam, former Chief Justice of India.
 
He had contributed Rs 1 lakh earlier to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. On Monday, he handed over a cheque for Rs 250,000 as the balance amount towards his contribution of one month's salary.
 
Vijayan's appeal, made through Asianet TV channel, on Sunday has gone viral on the social media.
 
He has suggested that those interested in contributing a month's salary can do it over a period of 10 months.
 
Advocate General C.P. Sudhakara Prasad said: "I had already handed over Rs 1 lakh when the CM made his call asking everyone to contribute. Now, heeding to his call to hand over a month's salary, I will do it when I get my next month's salary."
 
Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra told the media that he would pay his one month's salary in one instalment.
 
"I have got numerous calls from my colleagues who too have promised to contribute one month's salary. Kerala will bounce back very quickly," said Behra.
 
Senior Congress legislator and former Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said he had also decided to hand over his one month's salary too.
 
"But the state government should ensure that they stop all extravagance," he said.
 
Mohammed Hanish, a senior bureaucrat who heads the Kochi Metro, also promised to donate a month's salary. Many other officials and Ministers have also made the pledge.
 
The social media has welcomed Vijayan's call.
 
Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 417 people have died. The flood fury this month has caused unprecedented destruction and had forced more than one million people to take shelter in relief camps.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala floods: More people leave relief camps, cleaning in high gear

More and more people on Sunday quit various relief camps in flood-battered Kerala and returned to tidy up their once-submerged homes.

A man cleans up his house post floods, in North Paravur of Kerala's Ernakulam district on August 23, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
A man cleans up his house post floods, in North Paravur of Kerala's Ernakulam district on August 23, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
More and more people on Sunday quit various relief camps in flood-battered Kerala and returned to tidy up their once-submerged homes.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that 1,435 relief shelters were still operating, housing a total of 462,456 people, down from 6.05 lakh people in 1,822 camps on Saturday.
 
Vijayan said that with schools and educational institutions set to open from August 29, all camps in such places should be moved to other buildings.
 
On Sunday, while a large number of camps in the northern districts were wound up, the shelters continued to function in southern areas like Chengannur, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Thrissur.
 
Saji Cherian, a CPI-M legislator from Chengannur, told the media that while a good number of people returned to their home on Sunday, the last of the inmates would be back in their houses by September 1.
 
Congress legislators Anwar Sadat and V.D. Sateeshan insisted that there should be no forcible move to close the relief camps.
 
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According to figures provided by the Kerala government, Sunday saw 16,255 volunteers cleaning 14,485 homes and 254 public establishments including roads in the flood-ravaged districts.
 
Governor P. Sathasivam's Office quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying that the financial mechanism to meet the rescue and relief operations during any notified disaster was governed by the guidelines on the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund.
 
State Congress President M.M. Hassan said Congress President Rahul Gandhi would visit the flood-affected districts on August 28 and 29.
 
"The state unit of the Congress with the help of sponsors will construct 1,000 new houses," he said, and demanded that the immediate assistance of Rs 10,000 announced by the Kerala government should be hiked to Rs 25,000.
 
Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 417 people have died. The flood fury has also caused unprecedented destruction and, at one point, forced more than one million people to take shelter in relief camps.
 
IANS
 

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For a change, Onam brings cheer in Kerala flood relief camps

Survivors of Kerala's worst floods in a century on Saturday set aside their misery, even if only temporarily, to celebrate Onam in numerous relief camps across the state, relishing the traditional Onam "sadya" or lunch.

 
Devotees offer prayers on Onam in flood-hit Kerala
 
 
Survivors of Kerala's worst floods in a century on Saturday set aside their misery, even if only temporarily, to celebrate Onam in numerous relief camps across the state, relishing the traditional Onam "sadya" or lunch.
 
The second day of the harvest festival, called Thiru Onam, fell on Saturday.
 
Camp officers ensured availability of vegetables and other commodities after men and women in the camps insisted they would cook the sadya themselves instead of accepting what was being offered by NGOs and clubs.
 
Of course, not all the 26 dishes that constitute the sadya could be readied but people appeared to be happy with what they could prepare.
 
State Ministers, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, superstar Mammootty and hugely popular singer K.S. Chithra were among those who had the sadya with the people in various camps across the state.
 
Children managed to gather whatever flowers were available in and around the camp sites to prepare floral carpets.
 
Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 417 people have died. This month, unprecedented floods caused widespread destruction and forced more than a million people to flee their homes to take shelter in relief centres.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday evening said over 6.05 lakh people are still sheltered in 1,822 camps, big and small.
 
"We refused a sponsored Onam sadya. Our own lunch turned out to be a huge success," said Parvathy, a middle-aged woman who has been in a camp in Alappuzha for the past five days.
 
At a camp supported by a state-run engineering college, student volunteers joined the Onam celebrations.
 
In Kottayam, residents of Aymenem and Kumarakom said the Onam sadya provided them huge relief after unending stories of human suffering.
 
"The bonhomie lit up our lives especially when we prepared our own sadya," said a woman who was getting ready to return to her home.
 
Added Devika, at a camp in Kozihikode: "The tragedy has helped us learn many things which we never ever thought we would learn. We feel we have passed the litmus test."
 
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Bringing solace to a relief camp in Kodungalloor on Saturday was superstar Mammootty, who urged everyone to keep a positive frame of mind.
 
"You are going to rebuild your lives. Remember, many of you were saved by people who never knew you. Likewise, while a million people were affected by the floods, 30 million Keralites were not. Just like you were saved by unknown people, similar unknown people from across Kerala will come to your rescue when you rebuild your lives.
 
"Also, the Kerala government is there with you. Just be positive," he said and served lunch at the camp and then had his lunch too.
 
At a relief camp in Alappuzha, state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, along with Chitra, shared the table where Issac said in the next few days, an army of people are going to see that each and every house in Kuttanadu is set right and the people in these camps are put back in their homes.
 
Chitra sang a song and said that this sort of oneness at a time by the very people who have suffered so much is something that shows how people have faced their tragedy.
 
State PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran while sharing the table at a camp run by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) general secretary Vellapali Natesan said this sort of bonhomie is the first step to rebuild Kerala and it will be done.
 
Chennithala had his lunch at a camp in a college near Haripad, while state Health Minister K.K. Shailaja had hers at a relief camp in Wayanad.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood toll is 417, CM asks people to detail losses

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday put the number of dead in rains and floods at 417 as hundreds began returning home from relief camps, still leaving 8.69 lakh people in 2,787 shelters.

 
Kerala flood survivors struggle to restart normal lives
 
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday put the number of dead in rains and floods at 417 as hundreds began returning home from relief camps, still leaving 8.69 lakh people in 2,787 shelters.
 
Vijayan told the media that the deaths began since the monsoon rains started on May 29 but 265 of the casualties were reported from August 8 when torrential downpour triggered the worst flooding in the state in nearly a century.
 
Another 36 people were missing, he said, and urged those battered by the floods to submit on the Kerala government website details of the losses suffered by them. 
 
Some 7,000 houses were destroyed in the fury and around 50,000 had been partially damaged.
 
Vijayan's comments came as more and more people began quitting the relief camps, which at one time totalled more than 3,000, to restart lives in their previously water-logged homes.
 
As Friday remained sunny, water receded faster in most places that were inundated.
 
The maximum number of people in relief camps were said to be in Alappuzha, Chengannur, Paravur, Changnacherry, Chalakudy and parts of Pathanamthitta district.
 
In Kottayam, several camps wound up. At one centre at the CMS College, people were treated to an Onam 'sadya' -- the traditional feast served during Kerala's most important festival.
 
The main Onam festival falls on Saturday but Kerala will at best see subdued celebrations. The government has cancelled the official festivities and diverted the Rs 39 crore meant for it for relief work.
 
"We were treated well by the camp managers. We do not know what our fate will be when we return as we have nothing except the clothes we are in," said Thankama, a 70-year-old woman as she prepared to leave.
 
Finance Minister Thomas Issac said that around 5,000 volunteers were reaching the water-logged areas in and around Kuttanad.
 
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"An army of electricians, plumbers and even snake catchers are going to go around the 13 panchayats in Alappuzha district from August 28. They will clean up all houses and latest by the first week of next month all those in relief camps will be brought home," he said.
 
Hectic work was on to get the damaged Alappuzha-Changnacherry road to make it motorable again.
 
To raise additional funds for the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund, Issac announced a special lottery whose tickets would cost Rs 250 each. The government hopes to raise Rs 100 crore from the lottery.
 
Thiruvananthapuram district Panchayat President V.K. Madhu said that 4,000 people from the capital district would spread over across various flood ravaged places to engage in cleaning exercises starting on Saturday.
 
In Chengannur, many homes were spruced up.
 
"My daughter's marriage was fixed for the first week of next month. Now we have to start all over again as we have decided to postpone it," said a distraught father near Chengannur.
 
Some voluntary agencies have begun counselling sessions in the relief camps. 
 
On Friday, two government officials were arrested in Wayanad for embezzling relief materials. Another person was similarly caught in Chengannur.
 
A person engaged in relief work told IANS that in several camps some political parties were diverting the relief materials to areas of their interest.
 
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded that the government should hike the amount of money being given to each camp inmate from Rs 10,000 to 25,000.
 
IANS
 

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Army to build two bridges to facilitate pilgrims' return to Sabarimala

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The Indian Army is set to build two bailey bridges near the Sabarimala temple to facilitate the pilgrims' return to the temple town, the authorities said on Friday.
 
The overflowing Pamba river and the closure of two major bridges forced the authorities to close the Sabarimala temple since August 13. 
 
Speaking to IANS, State Tourism and Devasom Minister K. Surendran said since the Pamba river was flooded, huge damage was caused to the temple town and its infrastructure.
 
"Two bridges have been shut and we are still unable to assess the extent of the damage caused by the floods. We have decided to entrust the Indian Army with the task of building two bailey bridges," said Surendran. 
 
The engineering division of the Army from Hyderabad has been entrusted with the job, he said, adding the final clearance is expected from the Defence Secretary soon.
 
He said Army authorities will decide the alignment of the bridges. One bridge would be meant for the vehicular traffic, and the other for pedestrians.
 
"Our prime focus is to get the damaged roads repaired. We are hoping the pilgrims will be able to return to the temple when it opens in the middle of the next month," said Surendran.
 
According to the temple authorities, the floods have caused damage worth Rs 100 crore to its infrastructure.
 
The sluice gates of two dams that form a part of the Sabarigiri project was opened after heavy rains and subsequent floods ravaged places in and around the temple town.
 
However, all the religious rituals of the temple are going on.
 
The temple is open only from the middle of November till the middle of January, but for several years now, it is kept open for a few days at the start of every Malayalam month which falls during the middle of every month.
 
IANS
 

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