Flood and landslides in Kerala: Death toll rises to 42

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said everyone's help and cooperation was required to prevent loss of lives.
People being rescued from a flood hit Kerala village
People being rescued from a flood hit Kerala village
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The death toll due to the recent rains in Kerala rose to 42 on Wednesday, October 20. To prevent loss of lives in natural calamities like floods and landslides during heavy rains, which claimed 42 lives in Kerala, people should be relocated from risk-prone areas like low-lying and hilly regions, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. Speaking to reporters, he said usually people living in such areas do not move out even in the face of impending danger, which indicates the need to be more vigilant in moving forward. He said of the 42 lives lost between October 12 and 20, a total of 19 were due to landslides. Earlier in the day, during the Assembly session, he had said 39 lives were lost till October 19 due to the rains.

Therefore, for people to be safe during such calamities, they should not be living in such areas. Instead alternative accommodation should be provided to them, he said. Pinarayi further said that once such accommodation is made, people should be encouraged to move into the new place. He said everyone's help and cooperation was required to prevent loss of lives and that the government intends to work towards that. 

Answering questions on the opposition Congress and the BJP criticising the ruling Left Democratic Front over its alleged failure to implement the "Room For River'' project aimed at tackling the frequent flooding in the state, the Chief Minister said steps were being taken in that direction and that everything cannot happen in one go. He said the project has various aspects like desilting of the rivers, which were being carried out.

Speaking to reporters in Kannur, Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly VD Satheesan had, on Tuesday, said the Chief Minister during his visit to the Netherlands in May 2019 had announced "Room for River" project being implemented in the European nation to tackle flooding and ensure safety of people living in flood-prone areas. "That was a good idea. The project was to drain the water flowing into the river basins. But the plan has not yet been implemented," Satheesan had said while blaming the government's handling of the situation after the devastating flash-floods and landslides that occurred in south-central districts of Kerala last week claiming several lives and rendering many homeless.

The Chief Minister, in his conference, also extended condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the rains, floods and landslides. He said assistance, including appropriate compensation, and support would be provided to them. He said Health and Revenue Departments would be working with local self-governing bodies to ensure arrangements and facilities at the 304 relief camps set up across the State and ordered special care to prevent spread of COVID.

He further said besides the risk of COVID, during the rains there was a possibility of increase in infectious diseases and therefore, everyone should ensure personal hygiene and clean surroundings. People should drink only chlorinated or boiled water, and care should be taken to prevent breeding of mosquitoes around the camps, he said. He said assistance to the state has been promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai.

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