Kerala floods: More NDRF teams, IAF helicopters on way

Deccan Chronicle.

Nation, Current Affairs

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan speaks to Modi, Singh, Sitharaman; Spl Army forces in affected areas.

Fire and Rescue personnel evacuate residents of Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi on Thursday. (Image: Arun Chandra Bose)

Thiruvananthapuram: The state government has sought the centre’s immediate assistance in the wake of extremely grave situation prevailing in the state due to floods.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking their intervention. 

Chief secretary Tom Jose had a video conference with the union cabinet secretary to apprise him of the situation. 

Mr Pinarayi Vijayan said that a large number of villages and towns had been inundated across the state. The shutters of 58 dams controlled by KSEB and 22 dams of the irrigation department have been opened resulting in the flooding of most of the major rivers. 

“This is an unprecedented situation. Even those areas which had never witnessed floods in the past are submerged. Whatever is possible humanly was being done by the government, central agencies and voluntary organisations,” he said.

People residing in the flood-prone areas have been advised to follow the instructions being given by the district administration and other authorities concerned and move to safer places. There have been instances of people showing reluctance to move out of their houses which was adding to the problems of rescue teams.

The government said the water level in Periyar and Chalakudy river was expected to rise by one metre. Hence, people should maintain strict vigil. Already instructions have been issued to people residing on the banks of these rivers to move at least one km from the river to ensure their safety.

The authorities have appealed to the people to cooperate with the officials. Since there is a huge requirement of boats to rescue people who are marooned, the government has appealed to the fishermen and other people who own boats to provide boats for rescue operations. More motorised boats are needed, especially in the heavily flooded areas. 

Meanwhile, the centre has agreed to send 40 more teams of NDRF, 200 life buoys and 200 life jackets. Special forces of the Army would be deployed in the affected areas. Thiruvananthapuram: The government is working in close coordination with the commandant of special forces.

The Air Force has already deployed 10 helicopters. Ten more would join the rescue fleet soon.  At the moment, 52 teams of Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy, including 54 additional helicopters from Air Force are being sent from Sulur airbase. The Navy will deploy four more helicopters and marine commandos which will carry out rescue operations. Two ships of Coast Guard have been sent to Kochi, two more ships are on the way and five ships are on standby at Puducherry.  Since May 26 when the monsoon hit Kerala coast, 256 persons have died. In the recent floods, the death toll has reached 70. The worst-affected are Idukki, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakuam and Thrissur. The period during which officials spend time in the field taking part in relief and rescue operations would be considered as “duty days.”

The government has requested PSC to grant additional chance to the candidates who could not take the exams because of the floods.   The situation is likely to worsen in Kuttanad region, Kottayam, Alappuzha , Chengannur and Thiruvalla. Power supply has been cut in many parts of the state. The power supply will be restored only after ensuring that there is no danger. A meeting of cell phone service providers has been convened to ensure the communication services are retained in most areas.

There is a shortage of fuel in many parts of the state, resulting in problems for operating boats for rescue operations.  The government has asked the oil companies to ensure supply of adequate fuel.