The Vincentian Family in India has prepared a report about the recent floods in Kerala, which have caused hundreds of deaths and a situation of serious need among the inhabitants:
Kerala, the southern Federal State of India, which is home to 33 million people, has been devastated by the worst monsoon after almost a century. The monsoon began this year as usual on May 29. From the middle of July on wards Kerala is having incessant and excessive rains. The continuous depressions in the Bay of Bengal badly affected Kerala. The rain continued till August 21. Since the Reservoirs of Kerala had filled with water, they were opened to release the water. The gates of 36 of its 39 dams including the stream gates of the Idukki dam inundated the habitations on the riverside. All the five gates of the Idukki dam were opened for the first time emphasizing just how grievous were situations in Kerala. 211 incidents of flash floods and landslides have been reported in Kerala. Nearly 1000,000 people who became homeless due to floods were shifted to more than 2,500 relief camps.
The heavy monsoon rains left a trail of destruction with several cities, all the fourteen districts of Kerala, and many villages in Kerala submerging under flood waters. The worst hit districts are: Alleppey, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Vayanad, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Malapuram
Kerala, the God’s Own Country, is currently battling the aftermath of the most calamitous floods due to the relentless southwest monsoon rains. The situation deteriorated day by day with rains unleashing havoc in the state. The ruinous repercussions of this rainfall on various cities and villages across of Kerala are a bleak reminder to the fact that a regular vigilance is a necessity to tackle the uncertain natural disasters.
The communication and electricity lines were badly affected. About 320 boats and 30 military helicopters had been engaged in rescue operations all over Kerala. In addition State had engaged 16 army, 42 navy, 53 National Disaster Relief Force, and 28 coast guards teams in rescue operations. The works of the volunteers were laudable and they did much more effective and could save many lives even at the cost of their lives.
Damages: More than 500 people have lost their lives in the rain-related incidents so far and still counting. Though a total figure on damage caused by the floods is not available, the initial estimate, put at around Rs. 200,000,000,000 (about 2.850 american dollars), includes complete and partial crop damage, loss of livestock and property, according to Kerala Agriculture University sources. Massive damage to the roads, houses, and other infrastructure occurred in the northern districts of the state because of the avalanches caused by persistent rain showers.
The facilities at the Cochin International Airport in Kerala have been deferred due to excessive flooding around the airport till the end of August. The flight operations have been shifted to the Thiruvananthapuram and Calicut civil airports. There is still disruption in the train services and the road transport in the state is in shambles as the roads have gone underwater. The public transportation facilities of Kochi Metro and the Southern Railways have also been drastically affected.
The damage caused by floods will affect the food security and agricultural economy of the State for the next few years. In case of paddy, the flooded fields may not facilitate the next crop on time. Many coconut palms are uprooted and farm lands have been washed away. The home-scale and commercial vegetable cultivation, raised in around 50,000 hectares with an eye on the Onam season, is completely lost. Banana, cultivated in around 60,000 hectares with an estimated output of 500.000 tonnes have been swept away.
Devastating floods in Idukki and Wayanad districts totally destroyed the spices, pepper, rubber, coffee, part of tea, and other cash crops. The damage to rubber, which is already plagued by price crash and climatic challenges, and pepper will be more visible in the coming months and will also have a long-term effect in our agricultural economy.
Broiler poultry zones of Perumbavoor, Angamaly, Aluva, Chalakkudy, Thrissur and Alleppey and Pineapple and banana-production zones suffered losses. More than 80% of duck flocks of Kuttanad areas perished. Moreover, loss occurred in the fisheries stock including ornamental, rearing and nuclear breeding stock of fishes and hatcheries.
At a time the State is trying to maintain sustainability in milk production, livestock and poultry sector suffered a heavy loss. Roughly 100.000 of milch cattle, goats, pigs and more than 400.000 of poultry were lost due to heavy floods.
The current situation in Kerala demands resilient planning by the government and by the citizen. A beginning should be made with the relocation of the people away from the risk zones residing along the riversides. Finding an appropriate land is, of course, a big task in a populated, forested Kerala, but it is a definite need to get ready for the future. Efficient medical facilities are necessary in Kerala to deal with the epidemics after floods.
One of the main resolutions that VF in India have taken from its very inception is to join hands together in the time of natural disaster. I am not speaking here only about financial contributions but strategic plans and ways where we can bring some changes in the lives of the suffering brethren of ours. Hence I request all of you propose your suggestions as how to proceed at this time of crisis in Kerala. Now is the time to show our unity and strength.