Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged all sections of people to work towards a broad consensus than let petty politics overshadow the Rebuild Kerala Initiative.
Mr Vijayan was at a meeting with editors here on Monday, seeking all-out media support in spreading the message of cooperation by adopting a nonpartisan approach for Rebuild Kerala. He said the success of project implementation hinged on the extent of synergy that develops between international agencies with exposure in post-disaster rebuild and local stakeholders, including government departments
But a major hurdle to the state’s disaster preparedness was people’s reluctance to relocate from vulnerable habitations. Out of 18,000 families on the coastal stretch, 10,000 families had refused to leave their dwellings and set up new ones 50 metres away from where they were now. The same was the case with people in the hinterland and upland disaster zones, he said.
The Government gives Rs 4 lakh per family to relocate on government land or Rs 10 lakh, including Rs 6 lakh to buy land if government land is not available. Some 500 families are caught in domestic disputes, which collectors are trying to settle. Another issue was flood-affected families constructing bigger houses, in excess of the Government aid.
Referring to serial extensions granted by the state government for filing appeals against assessments by local agencies, Mr Vijayan said there was a veritable flood of appeals against assessments and some people even chartered lorries to reach the government office to submit appeals.
The government is focussed on learning from experiences of countries that regularly face natural disasters and build up their own defences proactively.
The Dutch have a developed a “room for river” model to absorb the occasional surge. But this calls for structural changes to the functioning of government departments. The solution lies in better coordination among departments and infusion of professionalism, drawing on the rich experience of international agencies, he said.
The next phase is to mark out priority projects, to be implemented one by one, Mr Vijayan said.
In reply to a suggestion, Mr Vijayan said the government periodically reviewed the pace of progress and held discussions at different levels to collect inputs; this would reflect in the final programmes. About discussing with stakeholders, mainly disaster survivors, Mr Vijayan said discussions were being held wherever possible.
On the Centre’s attitude, Mr Vijayan said issues had cropped up off and on but the state government is committed to working with the Union government in the best interests of the state....