The Kerala government on May 27, Thursday, urged the Union government to declare coastal erosion as a natural disaster and also to double the disaster relief amount in view of loss and damage to the state's coastline, which is exposed to rogue waves. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard. The CM said Kerala has a coastline of 590 km spread across nine coastal districts. "The Union Government has permission to provide assistance to the people in the event of state-level disasters from the annual allocation to SDRF (state disaster response fund) and NDRF for up to 10%. Accordingly, Kerala has already declared coastal erosion as a state-level disaster."
"However, the Union government has not taken such a decision. In the current situation, SDRF-NDRF assistance cannot be given for losses due to coastal erosion. Therefore, the state has demanded that coastal erosion be declared a natural disaster," Vijayan told reporters. He said the state government is currently providing assistance in the case of natural calamities as per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. The Union government is in the process of revising the norms on relief to people through SDRF and NDRF as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission.
"In the wake of COVID 19, increasing the relief amount to the people would be beneficial to the state government. The Prime Minister has been asked to double the relief available when the norms are revised," the Chief Minister said. Various coastal regions in Kerala, including Chellanam in Ernakulam, Valiyathura in Thiruvananthapuram, Ponnani in Malappuram etc, had been witnessing severe coastal erosion in the past weeks.
Scores of houses have been damaged and people had to be rehabilitated amid the pandemic. Residents have expressed their anguish as coastal erosion will be more severe during the monsoon that is expected to start in a few days. The coastal village of Chellanam witnessed massive flooding during the Tauktae cyclone.
Watch: Hundreds of houses flooded in Chellanam amid raging COVID-19 pandemic