With rains still pouring down heavily leading to flooding of dams and rivers across Kerala, the death toll in the state has increased to over 173, leaving more than 40 injured. As the flood situation continued to deteriorate in the state, as many as 33 dams have opened their shutters to release excess water due to heavy rain. Due to the heavy rainfall, the Kochi International Airport has been shut till Saturday. The heavy rains has been battering Kerala since August 8, which led to flooding and landslide.
The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday issued a stern warning to those spread fake news about floods in the state using social media. Speaking to the media, Vijayan said it is unfortunate that the social media is being misused and fake news is being spread about Kerala’s tragedy. “I wish to inform all that the state government will now take very strict action against such people,” said Vijayan. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Friday evening head to Kerala to review the flood situation in the state.
Here are few things that we know the floods in Kerala:
- The Central government has asked domestic airlines to keep a check on air fares for flights operating to and from Kerala. “We have advised airlines to be more sensitive to the situation arising out of #KeralaFlooding & keep airfares in check. It’s a humanitarian cause. Thx to all for agreeing with my suggestions to carry free of charge the #KeralaFloodRelief related material. All efforts ongoing for relief,” Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted.
- Almost 1,65,538 people are residing in 1155 relief camps due to the natural disaster. The floods which wrecked 2857 houses, also damaged 3393 hectares of crop.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the Kerala Chief Minister to discuss flood situation in the state. Prime Minister Modi had also asked the Defence Ministry to step up the rescue and relief operations across the state.
- Even as Kerala grapples with its worst floods in nearly a century, Finance Minister Thomas Issac on Thursday announced a hike in excise duty on liquor to raise additional funds for relief and rehabilitation of the affected. “Yes, there is a financial resource crunch. We shall overcome. As additional resource mobilisation to the Chief Ministers Disaster Relief Management Fund, the excise duty on liquor increased by 0.5 to 3.5 percent for 100 days. Rs 230 crore expected as additional revenue,” Issac tweeted.
- The Kerala government on Thursday described as “completely baseless” rumours being spread in social media sites like WhatsApp and Facebook that the Mullaperiyar dam has developed some cracks. “This rumour is completely baseless and the dam has not developed any cracks as alleged. These rumours are creating unnecessary panic among people living in downstream in the Periyar catchment,” Water Resources secretary Tinku Biswal said.
- Telecom operators have announced free calls and data, extension in bill payment due dates and other relief measures for subscribers in the flood-hit state of Kerala. Reliance Jio has announced free services for seven days while BSNL is offering unlimited free calls within its network and data services along with 100 SMS per day for a week to customers. Telecom major Bharti Airtel has offered Rs 30 talk-time credit and free 1GB data for pre-paid customers for seven days.
- The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Disaster Management sub-committee of Mullaperiyar Dam to consider reducing water level up to 139 feet from the present 142 feet, considering the “grave” flood situation in all the 14 districts of Kerala.
- Kerala University has postponed all exams for graduate courses scheduled till August 23.
- Kerala government has rescheduled Onam vacation or schools as the flood situation in the state has worsened. The holiday will be from August 17 to August 29.
- Congress president Rahul Gandhi spoke to PM Modi and requested him to “massively increase deployment of the Army and Navy”. “Kerala is in great pain. I spoke to PM and requested him to massively increase deployment of the Army & Navy. I also said that it is critical that he gives the state special financial assistance as this is a tragedy without parallel in Kerala’s history,” Gandhi tweeted.
- The CMO urged people to not panic. “Evacuate homes if there are orders from state agencies, we are closely working with Centre too,” it said.
- Kerala has suffered an overall loss of Rs 8,316 crore due to floods. This figure is according to a preliminary assessment of the situation, based on which a memorandum has also been submitted to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that passports damaged in floods in Kerala will be replaced free of cost by the government. “There are unprecedented floods in Kerala causing huge damage. We have decided that as the situation becomes normal, passports damaged on the account (of) floods shall be replaced free of charge. Please contact the concerned Passport Kendras,” Swaraj tweeted.
- Kerala is going through its worst flood crisis since 1924. Ten out of the total 14 districts in the state have been badly affected.
(Inputs from Agencies)