More than two weeks after severe landslides due to heavy rains wreaked havoc in a few districts of Kerala, the state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has informed that restrictions will be put in place regarding the construction of buildings in landslide-prone areas. The announcement comes at a time when the state government is under fire for its quarrying policies.
Stating that the construction of buildings in landslide-prone areas is dangerous, Pinarayi Vijayan, on Saturday, added that a special committee will be formed to conduct a scientific study regarding the matter.
“Human lives are more important than anything else. We have helplessly watched people being buried under the soil. Constructions should not happen in areas that are prone to landslides,” said Pinarayi, who added that the government will help in the construction of homes for those who are currently living in landslide-prone areas and who do not possess any other land.
Pinarayi also emphasised the importance of protecting streams and other such water bodies. “By shutting down the natural route for the flow of water bodies, we have allowed the water to get inside our homes. So there is also a need for the protection of water bodies and clearing the route for the free-flowing of water,” he added.
Kerala had not recovered from the devastation caused due to the deluge in August 2018 when exactly a year later it was yet again hit by a similar disaster. Last year, continuous rains in the month of August had forced the opening of several dam shutters in the state, which is widely considered to be one of the reasons for heavy flooding last year. “However, this year, even without opening the dam shutters, there were flooding in various parts. Soil erosion and landslides have caused tremendous damage to our state,” stated the Kerala CM.
The state government will also be providing their support in the rehabilitation work, the CM said. The government, according to Pinarayi Vijayan, will ensure that people who lost their houses in the disaster and are currently living in relief camps, will be provided with temporary housing arrangements until new houses are constructed. The Collectors of various districts have been given the responsibility to ensure this is implemented.
“The government will also provide an immediate relief amount of Rs 10,000 to all those families who are leaving the relief camps and heading back to their houses. The amount will reach their respective bank accounts before September 7,” said the Kerala CM.
According to official numbers, a total of 125 deaths have been reported as of August 24, with the most number of deaths being reported from Malappuram (60), where a massive landslide took place in the Kavalappara area near Nilambur.