With rains continuing unabated and more forces being called in to rescue stranded people in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday evening said that an emergency meeting had been convened to evaluate the extent of damage. 2500 people from Ernakulam and 580 people from Pathanamthitta were rescued on Thursday.
The CM said that various agencies of the Central and State government were working in tandem to mitigate the situation. The water level of the Chalakudy river was not going to decrease for now, so precautionary measures will be taken, he added.
â€śMany people are stranded in waterlogged areas on the second and third floors of buildings. We are trying to rescue them from there and measures will be taken to provide food and water for them to survive. We need the cooperation of everybody in the country to do this,â€ť Pinarayi Vijayan said.
On the issue of the Mullaperiyar Dam, the CM said that TN was initially not cooperating, but things have changed. â€śTamil Nadu was not ready to release water initially. There was no use communicating with the TN CM. So, we asked the Prime Minister to intervene. That worked, and they agreed to release more water from the dam. There is good cooperation from them,â€ť he said.
The Chief Minister said that they are in the process of rescuing stranded people, but promised to expedite the process. â€śApart from vehicles of the army and other forces, we are also using boats of the fishermen for rescue operations,â€ť he said.
The CM put the district collectors in-charge of disaster management.
Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Thrissur districts will have three choppers each from Friday morning for rescue operations. Following that, the choppers will be used as needed. A total of 23 helicopters will be in operation, the CM said. 250 boats have reportedly been used in just the four above mentioned districts â€” including the boats of the central government and that of fishermen.
Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Thiruvalla, Ranni and Kozhencherry are also scheduled to get more boats.
â€śWe are getting fire force boats from Tamil Nadu also. Private boats are also being pressed into service. We are taking steps to bring these to the locations overnight. To areas where normal boats cannot access, we will deploy choppers,â€ť he said.
With more rainfall predicted for tomorrow, the CM advised people to be cautious and asked them to be wary of fake news. This comes soon after a circular, which said that action will be taken against people who spread fake information.
Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the cabinet decided to increase the excise rate on Indian Made Foreign Liquor in order to get more funds. The funds they receive will be used towards relief measures.
The Army, Navy and Air Force are currently on the ground for rescue operations. â€śAt 10.30 am, our Chief Secretary spoke to Defence and Home secretaries and briefed them about the issue. The NDRF will send 40 more teams to Kerala,â€ť the CM said.