Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 28 (IANS) Admitting that the flood damage was much more than what was estimated, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday urged the Kerala Diaspora to contribute a month’s salary for the state’s reconstruction.
Vijayan’s comments came as the total number of people in relief camps, which stood at 14.5 lakh on August 21, came down to 1.97 lakh on Tuesday as thousands returned to their once flooded homes after they were cleaned up.
“The Kerala Diaspora is already coming out in a big way to help us. What we want is a proper system in place to channelise their resources… I call upon all the Diaspora to contribute a month’s salary over a period of 10 months,” he told the media here.
The government’s priority was to source funds for rehabilitation of the hundreds of thousands displaced and badly hit by the worst floods in Kerala in nearly a century, he said.
“The damage that has taken place is much more than we have estimated and hence funds have to come. But given the response, we are confident, our people will rise to the occasion and come to our help.”
Vijayan urged businessmen to think of giving a portion of their earnings to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.
All schools in Kerala will reopen after the Onam holidays on Wednesday barring those in Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts which have been turned into camps to house those forced to flee their submerged homes.
“Strict action will be taken against all those who dispose waste into lakes and rivers during cleaning operations,” added Vijayan.
Tuesday saw a massive cleaning drive led by Finance Minister Thomas Issac and PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran.
“This is perhaps the biggest cleaning drive that has commenced as people have come in huge numbers from various parts of the state to clean up homes in Kuttanadu area,” said Issac.
More than one lakh people in Alappuzha continue to be in relief camps, where the cleaning drive is going on on a massive scale.
On Tuesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi arrived here and went around relief camps in Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam districts and promised that the Congress would do its best to ease people’s sufferings.
The party has decided to build 1,000 new homes through sponsorship. Gandhi handed over the first few houses in Alappuzha besides thanking the fishermen who played a key role in the rescue operations.
Chief Secretary Tom Jose said discussions would be held on Wednesday with World Bank officials on the impact of the floods.
Forest and Animal Husbandry Minister K. Raju on Tuesday said that all those who lost goats, cows and buffaloes would be compensated ranging from Rs 3,000 and Rs 30,000.
“The National Diary Development Board is also extending its support and it has been decided to provide cattle feed to farmers,” said Raju.