#All efforts, private and governmental, need to be stepped up to assist flood-affected people
The unprecedented(अपूर्व/अनोखा) deluge(जल-प्रलय) in Kerala unleashed (बंधनमुक्त करना) by heavy rain, overflowing rivers, brimming(भर जाना) dams and massive landslips has overwhelmed(जलप्लावित) the State government and rescue agencies, as they struggle to make a complete assessment of the devastation(तबाही). More than 160 people have died since August 8, and several are missing. The State government faces the challenging task of rescuing people who are marooned(जलमग्न कर देना) in far-flung(दूर-दराज़) houses in several districts and providing them food and water until the teams get to them. About 2,23,000 people had been moved to more than 1,500 relief camps as of Friday, with more waiting to join. A respite(घटाव) in rainfall has aided the relief efforts, but as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan acknowledged, it will take a major effort, using a combination of boats and aircraft from the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard and legions(स्वयं सेवी सैनिक) of rescue personnel, to get all the stranded people to safety. The reduction in rainfall should help the National Disaster Response Force, which has committed 55 teams, intensify (बढ़ जाना) its efforts to reach those who are stranded. In fact, disaster management units in other States too should assist those working on the ground to deal with Kerala’s catastrophic(विनाशकारी) floods; apart from helping, they will gain valuable experience as well. Going forward, the task of reconstruction will have to be addressed, covering public buildings, residential homes, roads and other infrastructure. A subsidised(आर्थिक सहायता प्राप्त) housing programme may be needed in the worst-hit areas, with tax breaks offered to residents.
There is an outpouring (बहुत ही ज्यादा उत्पादन) of goodwill and support from across the country and even abroad(देश से बाहर), and the State government has acted quickly to make online contributions to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund possible through a dedicated portal. Liberal donations will help the government in large-scale relief and post-flood rehabilitation (स्वास्थ्यलाभ) initiatives. Support groups from neighbouring States such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have begun sending relief material, although the disruption to road connectivity has left a lot of it stranded at the inter-State borders. These volunteer efforts can be better targeted if the district authorities in Kerala put out advisories on the nature of relief needed, and the locations and the modalities of transfer. More immediately, it is important to continue with the air-dropping of food, water, candles, matches and other essentials to the worst-hit areas. Many control rooms have been opened, but integrating the mechanism by merging the various phone numbers into three or four, at one per region, and allocating sufficient phone lines, will help citizens use them more easily. Hopefully, the worst is over. With full dams and overflowing rivers, Kerala desperately needs a benign shift in the weather to be able to cope with a disaster on a scale it has never seen before. It indeed needs all the support it can get.