Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday conducted an aerial survey of the flood-devastated parts in Kerala, which is facing worst deluge in 100 years. Kerala, popularly known as God's own country, has been battered with torrential rains and landslides, killing at least 324 people. PM Modi expressed his grief and sorrow on the unfortunate deaths and damage caused to lives and property due to floods.
The Prime Minister reviewed the flood situation during a meeting with Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and officials of the state government.
After the review, the Prime Minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the flood-ravaged state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week. He also assured the Kerala government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines etc would be provided, as requested.
PM also announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those seriously injured from PM's National Relief Funds (PMNRF).
Before undertaking the aerial survey, Modi chaired a meeting in Kochi with CM Vijayan, Union Minister KJ Alphons and other officials.
#WATCH: Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducts an aerial survey of flood affected areas. PM has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and Rs.50,000 to those seriously injured, from PM’s National Relief Funds (PMNRF). #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/T6FYNVLmMu— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2018
The prime minister arrived in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday night, and was received by Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam, CM Vijayan, his cabinet colleagues among others. Before returning to Delhi from Kochi, the prime minister will chair a meeting to discuss the grave situation in the state.
Earlier on Friday, Modi had tweeted "Later this evening, I will be heading to Kerala to take stock of the unfortunate situation due to flooding."
"Had a telephone conversation with Kerala Chief Minister...We discussed the flood situation across the state and reviewed rescue operations."
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media on Friday night that the situation arising out of unprecedented floods and subsequent havoc caused by turgid rivers and gushing waters in Kerala continues to be "grave".
He said that since August 8 -- when the rains began pounding the southern state -- as 3,14,391 persons have been lodged in 2,094 relief camps across Kerala.
"The worst affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur," Vijayan said after a review meeting with state officials.
Hundreds of defence personnel, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, helped by more than 20 helicopters, mounted search and rescue operations. Fishermen along with their motorboats too joined the humanitarian efforts.
More helicopters were pressed into service on Friday to fly sorties for rescue and relief.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sanctioned the extra choppers, as people marooned in Chengannur and Chalakudy could only be airlifted to safety.
Waters from the Periyar river and its tributaries kept many towns in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts submerged. The worst affected include Paravur, Kalady, Chalakudy, Perumbavoor and Muvatupuzha.
Thousands of people are still perched on high-rise buildings waiting to be rescued and taken to relief camps. Over 50,000 people are lodged in the Ernakulam and Thrissur camps alone.
Intensity of rains, however, decreased in several districts since Friday morning, leading to decrease in water level in three big dams in Idukki district.
The red alert in Kasargode and Thiruvananthapuram districts was withdrawn on Friday though the warning continued in other 12 districts in Kerala.
Kerala Flood: Need assistance? Here are all major helpline numbers and location of rescue camps:
Here's how you can donate to Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund
For the people of Kerala, the road to recovery is going to be a long one. Your help no matter how small will be a step to restore normalcy. Donate to:— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 17, 2018
Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund
Bank: State Bank of India
IFSC : SBIN0070028
SWIFT CODE : SBININBBT08 pic.twitter.com/cbsFwRplsG
DGCA asks airlines to add more flights, begin operations from nearby airports
Aviation regulator DGCA has asked domestic airlines to operate additional flights to Kerala and cap fares as the state reels under a deluge that has forced its busiest airport in Kochi to shut operations till August 26.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which held talks with the carriers, said it is constantly monitoring airfares on 32 direct routes operating to/from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Mangalore.
States, associations step forward to help affected people
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has donated Rs 30 lakh to the relief fund for Kerala flood victims.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also announced Rs 10 crore relief for flood-ravaged Kerala, where 106 people died on a single day yesterday as the state plunged deeper into misery with hospitals facing shortage of oxygen and fuel stations running dry. Kejriwal also appealed to the public to make donations to the crisis-hit state.
Odisha government also announced a financial assistance of Rs 5 crore for flood-ravaged Kerala. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik talked to his Kerala
counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan over telephone, following which the financial aid was announced. Patnaik also offered any other kind of support required to tackle the calamity, as Odisha has expertise in dealing with disasters like flood and cyclone.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao too announced Rs 25 crore and 10 reverse osmosis plants worth Rs 2.5 crore for the southern state.
SC asks crisis management panels to consider lowering dam water level
The Supreme Court has asked two crisis management panels to explore the possibility of reducing the water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam by three feet to deal with the devastating floods in Kerala and asked Tamil Nadu to "scrupulously obey" any decision taken on the issue.
Emphasising that the critical flood situation needed to be dealt with "focus, concentration and efficiency by all concerned", the top court said it was not an expert to deal with such unprecedented natural calamity and was leaving it to the executive to tackle the situation.
It asked the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) and a committee, set up by the top court in 2014 to manage and look after the safety and security of the dam, to coordinate with each other and explore the possibility of reducing the water level from the existing 142 feet to 139 feet.
Insurers asked to expeditiously settle claims in flood-hit Kerala
As rains and floods continued to wreak havoc in Kerala, insurance regulator Irdai asked all insurance companies to set up special camps and make immediate payments against insurance claims.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has issued guidelines in the regard for both life and non-line insurance claims and asked them to report the progress.