KOCHI: People of Kerala are learning many lessons of disaster preparedness and management as they are under the threat of heavy rains and possible floods during the global pandemic. Changes in monsoon pattern with extreme rainfall and subsequent devastating floods have forced residents of many villages and towns in Kerala to search for safer places during rainy season.
The heavy rain falls predicted by weather agencies and chances for floods have forced them to take all possible precautionary measures. With floods becoming an annual affair in the state, residents of the flood-plain and low-lying areas are all set to move to safer places as the monsoon season begins.
Due to Covid scare no one wants to take a chance. They find the relief camps to be opened by the government unsafe. Residents of the worst flood-hit areas are really worried over the consequences of another episode of extreme natural calamity. Covid on one side and flood on the other, it will be a catastrophe for them.
“This time people are more alert about the heavy rains and floods. The pandemic scare has added to the woes. Several families in low-lying areas have taken houses and temporary shelters on rent for the rainy season. This temporary migration during monsoon season is a new phenomenon,” said Robin K, a native of Kunnukara village in Ernakulam district, the worst flood hit area.
“All houses in high planes have been already rented out. Those who can afford have taken residential apartments in nearby towns for rent while others have ensured small houses in safer places. As houses are not available for rent, many families are moving to their relatives’ houses. Some of them already shifted documents and other valuables including vehicles. Though we have been living along the banks of River Periyar, the river water never entered in our house during monsoon except in last two years,” said M.P Shajan, convener of Biodiversity Committee in Puthanvelikara panchayat in Ernakulam district.
Same is the trend in Aluva, the town in the outskirts of Kochi, where several high-rise residential apartments got inundated in 2018 and 2019. Residents of the apartments have made arrangements to move to safer places when rains intensify.
In several villages, loss of sustainable livelihood has become a major challenge for hundreds of families depending on the river, paddy fields or canals for livelihood.
Meanwhile, the State government has chalked out a comprehensive action plan for rehabilitation. The plan is to arrange four different types of rehabilitation centres, for the general category, for aged and ailing persons, for those with Covid symptoms and those who are under home quarantine.
Water level in all reservoirs is under constant monitoring. The Central Water Commission has recently amended the norms on water level to be maintained in each hydel dam in the state, in the wake of heavy rainfall forecast....