More leave Kerala relief camps, drive on to clean up houses

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Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 27 (IANS) Thousands left for their once flooded homes in Kerala on Monday, still leaving 342,699 in some 1,000 shelters, as an army of volunteers continued their drive to clean houses that were submerged for days.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said at a review meeting that the relief camps should be kept open for some more days.

Vijayan said in a statement that 1,093 relief shelters were now housing 342,699 flood-hit, down from 1,435 camps and 462,456 inmates on Sunday.

“The remaining camps have been asked to be kept open,” the Chief Minister said.

He said adequate stock of food materials and drinking water were available for those in the camps. Directions had been given to use pumps to flush out flood water from water-logged areas.

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Of the 2.5 million houses whose power connections snapped after the devastating floods this month, only 56,000 power connections remained to be restored, Vijayan said. He added that this would be done soon.

“Likewise, the burying of carcasses has also been almost completed. Today alone 18,532 small and 3,766 big animal carcasses were disposed of.”

Monday saw more than 17,000 people drawn from various sections of the society engaged in cleaning up of homes. On Tuesday, an army of volunteers would descend on Alappuzha district to spruce up the water-logged Kuttanadu area.

Presently, the maximum number of people still in relief camps are in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.

Saji Cherian, a CPI-M legislator from Chengannur, said practically every person now in camps in and around the area would be sent home as all the houses were in the final round of being cleaned.

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“In a locality of 10 homes, to start with we have decided to clean one well so that everyone in that place can use it. From September 1, every home would be provided a kit,” he said.

On the political front, the Congress-led UDF demanded that the fund collection initiated by the Kerala government following the floods should go into a special account and not into the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).

Monday also saw Vijayan’s appeal to people to contribute a month’s salary in the wake of the flood disaster elicit a good response, with Governor P. Sathsaivam and several leading personalities announcing their support.

Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 417 people have died. The flood fury this month has caused unprecedented destruction and forced more than one million people to take shelter in relief camps.

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–IANS

sg/mr

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