Thiruvananthapuram: Relief and rescue operations by security forces in Kerala are being scaled down even as the Union home ministry gives the floods a Level 3 classification denoting a calamity of “severe nature".
However, while the scaling down spells good news for Kerala, states on the eastern coast— Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal—are bracing for an area of low pressure building up over the Bay of Bengal and the resultant storm is likely to make landfall within the next 72 hours, senior officials of the Union home ministry said.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been leading the rescue and relief operations in Kerala, aided by the other central paramilitary, the Indian army, Navy and Air Force, having deployed 1,443 personnel over the last 10 days.
However, the force has partially started withdrawing its troops from Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Thrissur and Kottayam districts.
“We originally had 58 teams (1,443 personnel) on the ground across Kerala, that were engaged in rescue and relief operations. Operations are now in their second phase and 41 teams are remaining, with 17 teams being de-inducted on Monday and 18 more teams will be de-inducted on Wednesday," said K.K Singh, deputy inspector general (south India) of the NDRF.
Singh added that the remaining troops in Kerala would now be entering the third phase of relief and rescue operations, with medical assistance being provided for the flood victims.
The de-inducted troops will now be shifted to the east coast, to be kept on standby for any eventuality.
“The troops will be kept on standby in the three states because there is no certainty where the low pressure area will actually hit. So, the troops keep shifting as per the requirement," said Rekha Nambiar, senior commandant, NDRF (4th Battalion).
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), however, said that no pressure area is expected to develop over the Bay of Bengal over the next three days.
“Currently, there is no low pressure area system developing in Bay of Bengal. The heavy rains in Central parts are due to the remnants of the existing system over west Madhya Pradesh and its likely to shift northwards," said K. Sathi Devi, Head of National Weather Forecasting Centre, IMD, Delhi.
The centre, on Monday, classified the flood as an L3 category calamity, indicating that the calamity was of a “severe nature," wherein the state will be provided all necessary support by the centre for rescue, relief and rehabilitation work.
The Centre on Tuesday also released an assistance package of ₹ 600 crore to Kerala— made up of a central assistance of ₹ 500 crore announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and an assistance of ₹ 100 crore announced by Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
At the same time, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) also reviewed the rescue and relief work being carried out across the state.
Srishti Choudhary in Delhi contributed to this story.