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The aim is to clean up around one lakh buildings in the area.

Kerala floods Over 60000 volunteers take part in massive Kuttanad clean-up drive
news Rains Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 12:50

For the patients who sought treatment at the Pulimkunnu Taluk hospital in Kuttanad, it was a rare sight to behold on Tuesday.

A group of youth engaged in washing the floors, cleaning the chairs, the hospital equipment… and they didn’t stop till the cleaning was over.  

The youth from Vadakkumcherry in Palakkad had come all the way solely to take part in the mega cleaning drive for making Kuttanad liveable. The sight at the hospital was unique for the whole of Kuttanad, which witnessed a mass cleaning drive on Tuesday. Like the deluge itself, the drive also was unprecedented in scale with more than 60,000 people taking part in it.

From Vadakkumchery, 87 youth had come for the drive. “We are sent by DYFI Vadakumcherry area committee. From Palakkad alone, 1200 people were sent. We had been there for the cleaning drive in Chalakkudy, now we are here. We will return only after the drive is over,” says Rajesh, one of the volunteers.

Among the youth, there was equal participation of both men and women. “Why should we shy away. After all, it is the responsibility of all of us. We will do it together. The satisfaction we have now after taking part in it is beyond words,” says Shiby Krishna, another volunteer.

The volunteers, who had come from distant places reached Kuttanad on Monday and were first cleaning up a hall for them to stay. For Pulimkunnu hospital, the cleaning drive paved the way for resumption of services which were hit ever since the floods.

“First, we had to shift the functioning of the hospital to a nearby school. But when the school also was flooded, there was no other option but to stop it,” says Dr Jayasankar, the ad hoc officer of the hospital. After the cleaning on Tuesday, the services resumed.

“We have provided food and accommodation for the volunteers. The cleaning drive is excepted to finish in a couple of days by Thursday. Once it is finished, it is expected that more people can return to their homes. But for those whose houses are damaged, fully or partially, we will continue to house them at relief camps till alternative arrangements are made for them,” says district collector Suhas S.

Volunteers, including professionals from other parts of the state, are participating in the drive. There were at least 1,000 engineers, IT as well as other professionals like doctors and snake catchers, plumbers and electricians who joined the drive. Registration was done well in advance with volunteers signing up online as well.

The drive was announced by Ministers G Sudhakaran and Thomas Isaac, who themselves participated in it, after evaluating the flood situation on August 24. 

The volunteers reached the meeting point at Alappuzha and were sent to different parts of Kuttanad in groups. They travelled in boats and buses to the areas. Those who hadn’t registered gathered at SEV ground in Alappuzha, and went to other parts.

Nearly one lakh buildings in Kainakiri, Chambakulam, Nedumudi, Pulimkunnu and other areas of Kuttanad are expected to be cleaned during the drive.

The drive will clean houses, hospitals, educational institutions and other buildings, while the focus will be on restoring important buildings like hospitals first. 

Thomas Isaac said that the response to the drive has been overwhelming with more than 60,000 volunteers taking part in it, while Sudhakaran said that the drive will take some more time to finish. 

"The work has been completed in over 16 panchayats. This include houses, public places and places of worship. Though the initial plan is to complete the drive by August 30, it would take more time as a large number of houses are still waterlogged," minister Sudhakaran told media.

While the volunteers are all in high spirits, the local people are welcoming them with open arms.

"They have come to help us, how can I take money from them," Sajeev, a boat driver asks, after declining to take money from a team of volunteers, who travelled in his boat from Pallikkal to Alappuzha.

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