Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday, August 3, said that people living in disaster-prone regions should be ready to shift from their houses when they have been directed to do so by district authorities ahead of the state anticipating heavy rains in coming days. The Kerala government has made arrangements at relief camps to meet safety guidelines, keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People should not show reluctance when asked to move out. Relief camps have been prepared by district authorities abiding by physical distancing protocol. There is no need of apprehension. The only thing is that people should cooperate with officials when asked to move out,” said the CM.
According to the CM, Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad are sensitive spots. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in Kerala this week. However, the people are scared over the intensifying Southwest monsoon as the state had witnessed floods and devastation for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.
While all districts of the state are receiving heavy rains, according to IMD, a low pressure system expected to form over northwest Bay of Bengal on Tuesday is likely to develop into deep depression and that might bring heavy rainfall across the state.
The CM during his press conference on Monday said that there are also chances for flash floods to occur in low lying areas. “Unlike landslides, we will get to know in advance if there is a chance of a flood, but in this case also, people should not hesitate if they get directions from officials,” he said.
“In case of landslides, we cannot be exactly sure as to which spot the disaster can possibly hit. That is why it is advised that people in the region should cooperate with officials,” he added.
District administrations have also undertaken various steps ahead of the heavy rains. In Alappuzha district which is under yellow alert till August 7, the administration has decided to shift bedridden patients in Kuttanad taluk to government hospitals. Kuttanad is a low lying area and it was one of the worst affected areas of floods in 2018 and 2019.
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In a meeting of the District Disaster Management Authority chaired by District Collector A. Alexander, the local bodies were directed to prepare and hand over the list of bedridden patients, the differently abled, and people with serious medical conditions.
“Apart from Kuttanad, bedridden patients in coastal areas facing the threat of sea erosion will also be shifted. The patients are likely to be shifted from Tuesday taking into account the weather conditions,” an official was quoted as saying.
As COVID-19 poses a threat for the normal relief camps, the administration has taken special measures following the virus preventing safety protocols. “In the case of flooding, people in quarantine and those showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be shifted to COVID-19 care centres. Managing committees will be formed to run relief camps. Chemical e-toilets will be installed in Kuttanad. Fire and Rescue Services personnel, police, Kerala State Electricity Board, Health Department, volunteers among others will be part of rescue and relief operations during an emergency,” said an official.
Many coastal villages in the state have been hit and many are at the risk of sea erosion. Chellanam in Ernakulam district- one of the most severely affected COVID-19containment areas- is among those which witnessed severe sea erosion. Hundreds of people in this area have been affected by it. Though the district administration has opened relief camps, people have been hesitant to shift to camps due to fear of the pandemic.
Coastal villages in the state which have already been under the fear of COVID-19, are now facing threat of sea erosion. Coastal villages like Poonthura and Pulluvila in Thiruvananthapuram district have large clusters of COVID-19 and community transmission has also been reported in these areas.
As few coastal villages have become the epicentre of the virus, the health department had rolled out an action plan- a coastal health plan. It will be implemented in the 222 fishing villages spread across nine coastal districts in the state. The plan ‘envisions Covid testing facility within a village and also intends to establish Covid First-Line Treatment Centres in coastal areas itself so as to limit the movement of people.’
Amid these, the state has requested the Centre to deploy six more teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). As of now, four teams of NDRF have been deployed in the state. “The pre-monsoon works are completed. Though at present, things look fine, if there is persistent rain, water can be released from dams. In such cases, people in the region will be informed and will be shifted to safe locations,” said Pinarayi Vijayan.
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