Cyclone Ockhi: Kerala govt doubles compensation for victims
Bengaluru: The Kerala government on Wednesday doubled the compensation for victims of cyclone Ockhi as chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan answered critics saying there was no lapse on the part of his government in how it handled the cyclone’s impact.
He was countering criticism over how the government response to the disaster which killed 30 people in Kerala.
The state cabinet on Wednesday cleared a comprehensive relief package for the victims of cyclone ‘Ockhi’, raising Rs10 lakh exgratia amount for the kins of the deceased to Rs20 lakh, while those seriously injured would get Rs5 lakh.
The relief package also promises adequate compensation for loss of equipment for affected fishermen, such as boats and nets. It also promises to address re-employment, education, and rehabilitation of the affected families.
Every adult and child in an affected family who could not go out for work due to ‘Ockhi’ will be paid Rs65 and Rs40 per day respectively for the next seven days. In addition to the already announced week-long free ration for fishermen families, which will be extended to the entire month of December.
A chief secretary headed committee has been formed to ensure that no deserving applicant is denied compensation. If needed, the criterion for applicants will be relaxed to enable them to get compensation, said a statement from the government. The cabinet also approved a rework of the state’s disaster management apparatus, focusing on better efficiency.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Vijayan said there was no advance warning on the cyclone from the weather forecasting agencies, which should ideally have been sent to the government at least three days in advance. The cyclone was unexpected and extraordinary and since the moment the alerts were first issued, on 30 November noon, the government did not waste a minute, he said. He pointed out that the central ministers such as Nirmala Sitharaman and Alphons Kannanthanam had raised no criticisms about the government’s rescue efforts.
His comments followed protests in fishing villages and by opposition parties. The fishing communities say authorities failed to issue an early enough advisory, which could have stopped them from going to the sea. The opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the government also fumbled with search and rescue—at least in the initial stages.
Vijayan said that search and rescue operations launched since 30 November have saved the lives of 2,600 people, including 1,130 Keralities. However, 92 fishermen are still reportedly missing and the search is continuing for them, he said. The Latin Church, influential in the affected region, said on Wednesday that their surveys showed 201 fishermen are still missing.
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