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Asia India

Update

Kerala floods: Blame game begins as death toll reaches 35

4,000 lodged at camps in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts



People watch a house being washed away in river due to strong current in Kottayam
Image Credit: Reuters

Thiruvananthapuram: As the death toll in Kerala floods and heavy rainfall reached 35, the Congress-led opposition on Monday accused the Pinarayi Vijayan government of not acting in time. However, the government quickly denied the charges.

Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, who on Sunday visited the worst-affected areas in Idukki and Kottayam districts, raised questions as to why, despite the IMD warning, the state government failed to act.

“Wish to know why and what happened and it has now proved that the State government failed to act on warnings. We are told it took several hours for the team of the government officials to reach certain spots with men and material to do the rescue act. Something has gone wrong and we want answers,” said Satheesan.

State Revenue Minister K. Rajan, however, said there has been no wrong on the part of the State government.

“We rely on the reports and act on the basis of the Centre and we have done just that. Strict action will be taken against those who misuse the social media when the state is passing through tough times,” said Rajan.

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Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said an expert committee will take decision to open dams and that would be conveyed to District Collector who in turn will ensure that people living in vulnerable areas are evacuated to safety.

While chairing a meeting of high-level officials to discuss the ongoing flood situation, Vijayan said: "At the moment, 184 relief camps have been set up in which all essential items are there. Apart from the government departments which are helping, local community also can chip in."

On Wednesday, when the Assembly session resumes, the opposition is going to raise the issue in the House.

Meanwhile, around 4,000 people are now lodged at various camps that have been opened in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts of the state.

More rains expected

The latest weather forecast, which has now come out predicts heavy rains to lash the state starting Wednesday. It all started with the century’s biggest floods in 2018 and since then every year, Kerala has seen heavy rains and flash floods.

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An orange alert has been issued for the Idukki dam reservoir from 7am on Monday by the Dam Safety Authority of the state. Meanwhile, a blue alert has been issued for Idamalayar reservoir in Ernakulam district. A red alert has been issued for Kakki reservoir in the Pathanamthitta district.

The Pathanamthitta district collector informed that shutters of the Kakki dam have been opened. As rains lashed the state causing landslides and flash floods in several parts, the authorities tightened measures to prevent casualties.

This time the worst-affected have been the Kottayam and Idukki districts and though the rains have slowed down since Saturday evening and on Monday morning, authorities have issued an alert in eight of the 14 districts of the state.

However, on Monday in Pathanamthitta district in Central Kerala, things appear not that encouraging.

Meanwhile, the social media has also taken up the recurring natural disaster as nothing but man-made and numerous trolls have come highlighting the statement of noted environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel and in 2013 warned that if Kerala does not stop tampering with the Western Ghats, a huge disaster is round the corner.