Central team visits Kerala’s rain-struck areas, announces compensation

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Kochi/Alappuzha/Kottayam, July 21 (IANS) A team led by Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju toured various flood-hit districts of Kerala on Saturday and announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh for each of the deceased from the heavy rains that had hit the state over the past two weeks.

Just after his arrival at Kochi, the Minister told the media that the compensation package would be based on prescribed guidelines.

“When a calamity occurs, the Centre and state jointly works and both pool in their resources. We already have cleared Rs 80 crore on Friday,” he said, before he and his team took a helicopter to and head straight to Alappuzha, the worst-affected district.

They then moved to neighbouring Kottayam district visiting both the rain-hit areas besides visiting several relief camps.

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Rijiju, who was accompanied by Union Minister K.J. Alphons, who hails from the state, besides state Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunilkumar, PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran, Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose and the local legislators besides top officials, announced the ex-gratia payment at Kottayam.

“We visited the affected areas besides several relief camps. While we are happy with the relief camps and the facilities, the damages caused is too much. During a calamity, it’s a practise where both the state and the Centre works together. We are capable of handling the situation. For the deceased, Rs 4 lakh would be given,” he told the media.

At a relief camp in Kottayam, Rijiju returned to speak to the inmates when some of them angrily noted the Minister did not interact with them.

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The Minister also announced that long-term measures would also be undertaken to deal with the situation and would be worked out by a team of experts drawn from various departments.

“It was on the direction of Prime Minister that I have come and in 10 days time, we will submit a detailed report on this visit and follow up action would be based on it,” he added.

After going around Kottayam, he returned to Kochi, from where he left for Delhi.

Huge damage was caused on account of heavy rains that lashed most parts of the state over two weeks. Some of the worst-hits include Idukki, Ernakulam, besides parts of Kozhikode, Thrissur, Wayanad, Palakkad and Kannur.

The death toll in these rains touched 20 and according to Sunilkumar, the total damage has crossed Rs 900 crore.

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“About 22,000 hectares of agricultural produce has been destroyed. The biggest lacunae is the rate of the compensation that is prescribed as these are all old norms and insufficient,” Sunilkumar said on Saturday.

He said the damage to the crops is around Rs 220 crore. “We will again brief the Centre the urgency to increase the old compensation rates.”

Explaining the lacuna in compensation, the Agriculture Minister said Rs 95,000 was being provided for a house completely destroyed. “We have sought an increase as it requires Rs 4 lakh,” he said.

–IANS

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