Kerala; God's own country it was till the flash floods
gulped the entire state leaving its people imperilled. The state, highly praised for the beauty of its lush green forests, mountains, rivers, backwaters and beaches, thus earning the title "God's own Country'. However, the ‘God’ didn’t come for peoples’ rescue this time, apparently. Consequently, the death poll has risen to over 324 at this point, marking it as the century’s worst deluge for Kerala.
As all the 14 districts have been submerged in water, the state is facing its biggest natural calamity since 1924. The incessant heavy rain since August 7 and the subsequent floods triggered more than 200 landslides in various districts including Idukki, Pathanamthitta, and Wayanad, causing the displacement of around 7.24 lakhs
of people to 1,500+ relief camps across the state. Adding to the dismay, shutters of 35 of the 39 dams were opened simultaneously for the first time in history due to excess water level.
Standing paddy crops and plantations of banana, rubber, pepper, cardamom and arecanut have been devastated as the floods took the biggest toll in the plantation districts of Idukki, Kottayam and Wayanad.
Although an estimated ₹19,512 crores worth of economic assets have been lost in the catastrophe, initially, Centre sanctioned ₹100 crores for immediate relief despite a demand for ₹1,220 crores. Later on, during PM Modi’s visit to Kerala, he announced an additional ₹500 crores as relief measure wherein the chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan
had asked for ₹2000 crores.
During the Chennai floods, Tamil Nadu received an interim relief of ₹940 crores against a demand of ₹2,000 crores and when the state of Gujarat underwent floods in 2017, the interim allocation of relief fund was ₹500 crores.
The laxity shown by the mainstream media in covering Kerala floods is indeed castigating. Perhaps, the late coverage on the disaster not only diminished the magnitude of the issue but also failed to draw national attention.
Even though Home Minister Rajnath Singh had promised every help required for the state, he remained non-committal on declaring it as a national calamity. The contrast here, itself exemplifies how the government at the Centre overlooked the issue of a state which is completely inundated in water. If not now, when would the Centre pay any heed to the disaster which is devastating the lives of many?