During the pounding torrential rains and the inevitable flooding compounded by the rush of waters from several dams, in Kerala, the spirit and determination of the people of Kerala was overwhelming. The community of fishermen rose to the occasion and volunteered to rescue thousands of stranded individuals. They pulled several hundred others out of the rising waters. These good Samaritans didn’t need pep talks or protein shakes. Their strength came from within.
The service of the army units that were called in by the state to provide assistance in the rescue operations, deserve all the praise. However, the schools and colleges turned into shelters were a short-term solution to the requirements, as there were many more people who needed assistance.
The fortunate people whose houses stayed intact were able to go back, once the water levels came down, however, putting everything back together will be tedious. Many have lost their personal and important documents along with their homes. In fact, the government made little effort to mobilise rescue operations and most of the help came from volunteer groups including fishermen.
Yet managing the rehabilitation that will go into building Kerala will be difficult. There are questions on the technicalities concerning the identification of genuine and deserving cases, and the possibilities of misappropriation of relief funds. Already there are allegations raised by the opposition party, the Indian National Congress, over the slow and muted response by the Kerala state government with regard to the crisis.
Moreover the government allegedly failed to issue an advance warning to the general public on the prospects of lifting dam shutters, which could have helped people make necessary preparation to mitigate the damages. Now most people who have become victims to this natural disaster are staring at a bleak future. The government of Kerala must ensure that present relief operations and aid is being distributed effectively and evenly, and ensure transparency. An external agency should be appointed to audit the financial and other aid being given, so that fairness can be maintained. There is a possibility that corruption might creep in when a certain level of accountability is not maintained.
- The reader is a resident of Dubai