Kerala Budget 2018: Rs 2,000 crore Ockhi package seminal

The announcement of Rs 2,000-crore package for the fisher community is seminal.

The Budget indicates the State Government’s sense of urgency in improving living conditions, safety measures, sanitation, healthcare initiatives and education to the downtrodden along the 580-km Kerala coastline. Cyclone Ockhi has given hasty insights to policy-makers on the lack of coordination by weathermen due to unknown reasons, paucity of disaster preparedness, lack of skilled personnel for disaster management and deficiency or inadequacy of early warning systems. The announcement of Rs 2,000-crore package for the fisher community is seminal.

The proposed system, based satellite inputs, will give early warning to fishers in the open seas on adverse weather conditions. NavIC is an initiative by ISRO with its fleet of satellites to provide weather information and ease of connectivity. It has started functioning and is in the process of refinement. The proposed free Wifi will provide seamless communication, enabling useful inputs on weather and market trends. But constant follow-up is necessary to ensure the efficacy of systems. It is vital to educate users on the utility of the gadgets. Around 70 people lost their lives and more than a hundred are missing in Ockhi. Hundreds have lost their only source of livelihood. Seafood industry has shown a steep negative trend owing to a scare among fish-eating population over consuming the hypothetical “cadaver-contaminated catch”. Blame it on the social media for spreading such baseless stories!

A major hurdle to the rehab package stems from fishers’ refusal to shift out of the coast, away from their boats. This has proved disastrous during adverse conditions and when calamities like tsunami and cyclone devastate the area. The move to shift those from within 50 m of the coast to safer areas and to plant mangroves to protect the coast from erosion and rough seas is highly commendable. The initiative to grant a health package for coastal families and upgrading schools with more than 250 students will raise the quality of life and help mould an informed community.

Sea level rise on account of thermal expansion and glacier melting pose another threat. Arabian Sea has warmed during the last few decades and the trend shows more adverse weather events may devastate the coast during the monsoon and cyclone seasons in the coming years. The Centre’s support is essential to increase the quality of life of coastal dwellers since they also help in earning immense foreign exchange. It is essential to equip the hazard-resilient communities to face these threats.

(The author is a science researcher. Views are personal))

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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