The Kerala government has issued an order declaring heat wave, sunstroke and sunburn as ‘State-specific disasters,’ thereby making victims eligible for relief aid from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The order comes as Kerala witnesses rising mercury levels, with heatwave hitting a number of districts, like Kozhikode and Malappuram.
The circular issued on March 9 states that the Government of India has “permitted to use 10 per cent of the annual SDRF/NDRF allocation for relief assistance to ‘State-Specific Disasters’ within the local context of the State.”
It also states that such local disasters and relief norms have to be declared and approved by the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
The order states that families of those who die from a sunstroke will receive Rs 4 lakh as ex-gratia. For victims who lose their eyesight, the state will provide Rs 59,100 for treatment, if the damage to the eye is between 40-60 per cent. If the damage is above 60 per cent, Rs 2 lakh will be given to the victim and their family.
Any form of grievous injury from sunstroke or heat burn that requires hospitalisation will also receive relief aid. If the victim spends over one week in the hospital, he/she will get Rs 12,700. If the hospitalisation period Is less than one week, Rs 4,300 will be granted.
Other emergencies for which the SDRF’s funds will be released have also been mentioned in the order. The government can release funds to evacuate people from an affected area or one that is likely to be affected. Funds are also allowed for the hiring of boats to carry out immediate relief and saving lives. The SDRF funds can be used to provide for temporary accommodation for food, clothing, health care etc, for those who suffered from sun strokes and/or heatwaves and have been put up in relief camps. Funds for the above-mentioned emergencies will be allocated following a cost-based assessment of need one by the District Disaster Management Authority.
In rural and urban areas, funds can be used to provide emergency drinking water, as well as for disposal of dead bodies or carcasses.
Relief aid for loss of milch and draught animals
In the event of loss of cattle or other milch animals due to heatwave or sunstrokes, the government will also fund their replacement. Following the death of a cow or buffalo, the owner gets Rs 30,000 while in case of a death of sheep, goats or pigs, the owners will get Rs 3,000. In case draught animals such as bullocks, horses or camels die, the owners are eligible for Rs 25,000. For the death of poultry, owners are eligible for Rs 25,000 and in case of death of calves, donkeys, pony, mule etc, the owner will get Rs 16,000 as relief assistance fund.
A detailed circular will be released by the government on how to utilise funds provided for heatwave, sunstroke and sunburn.