Home >Politics >Policy >From crowdsourcing aid to volunteerism, Kerala finds ways to rebuild itself

Ernakulam: From schemes to compensate victims to efforts to raise money for the cash-strapped treasury, here’s a look at how Kerala is responding to the post-flood situation.

Kerala’s communist government, which came to power in 2016 with its strong welfare politics and development agenda, has announced generous compensation for flood victims.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday announced 10,000 to the nearly 400,000 flood displaced who are now returning from relief camps to their homes, as a quick aid.

Vijayan had earlier announced an ex gratia payment of 4 lakh to the next of kin of deceased and 10 lakh to those who have lost property.

To get the economy back on its feet, the government is also providing interest-free loans of 10 lakh to small-scale businesses devastated by the floods, besides personal loans of up to 5 lakh for a female member of a household for home repairs.

The Kerala government will also come to the aid of those who have lost education certificates and documents of possessions in the floods that hit the state by holding special courts to help them get duplicates free of cost from the first week of September .

Cleaning up flooded homes is a mammoth task that involves both physical labour and finance. It involves clearing away silt, disinfecting homes, removing plastic waste, assuring drinking water supply and sanitation and setting of IT-enabled surveillance systems to coordinate work, according to state finance minister Thomas Isaac.

This is largely dependent on volunteers from the civil society, the army, police and the fire and rescue department, among others. For instance, responding to the government’s call, an estimated 75,000 people have signed up online to help clean up houses in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district on Tuesday. This is significant as almost every one of the more than 200,000 people in Kuttanad are in relief camps, and the government aims to move them back to their homes over the next three days.

The floods have caused damage estimated at 20,000 crore. The chief minister made an appeal on Sunday through Malayalam news channels to Keralites across India and the world to contribute a month’s salary—in a staggered manner—to help the rebuilding efforts in the state.

“Kerala’s strength is not its treasury, but the world’s support," Vijayan said.

“It will be difficult to contribute one month’s salary at a stretch. But Keralites, including those from outside, can at first contribute three days’ salary a month and over a period of 10 months donate the remaining sum," he said.

The move has already seen some success in 24 hours. The social media is abuzz with people in support of the move, and some prominent people are already pledging money. They include governor P. Sathasivam, DGP Loknath Behera, the entire staff of the chief minister’s office, the local self government department and the industries department. From across the border, Tamil Nadu’s biggest government workers’ union, the Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association, also took the pledge, donating 200 crore.

The Centre has granted 600 crore so far and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday assured more assistance. The state has also not lost hope on reported offers of aid from foreign countries, the biggest from the United Arab Emirates of 700 crore, which has been a point of controversy.

Kerala aims to raise a World Bank loan to rebuild public infrastructure, Vijayan said in an interview to Mint reported on Monday. A state government official privy to the discussions said that the government is preparing a concept note to raise 3,000 crore.

The development needs to be seen against the backdrop of several international agencies offering to help Kerala. On 22 August, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor met officials of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Health Organization and International Red Cross in Geneva, to explore ways to get funding for Kerala’s rebuilding.

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