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Kerala Floods LIVE: Centre Exempts GST on Aid Material, Vijayan Says 10 Lakh Still in Relief Camps

News18.com | August 20, 2018, 10:53 PM IST
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Kerala Flood LIVE: Health authorities prepared defences against the spread of disease in flood-hit Kerala on Monday as water receded and a huge clean-up gathered pace after the worst floods in a century killed more than 350 people. Union tourism minister KJ Alphons said that over a million people are in relief camps across the state and rescue operations are almost coming to a close. The focus has now shifted towards relief and rehabilitation.

The biggest challenges immediately ahead are cleaning of the flood-hit houses, rehabilitation, and prevention of water-borne diseases. The World Health Organisation has also sent a 13-member team to the flood-hit state to oversee efforts to counter any epidemic outbreak.
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Aug 20, 2018 10:53 pm (IST)

Karnataka Announces Relief for Flood-hit | The Karnataka government has announced Rs 2.2 crore interim relief for 5,800 people rescued from flood-hit Kodagu district. “The government has initiated steps to pay interim relief of Rs 3,800 per family to 5,800 distressed people in the relief camps,” chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said. The heavy rains, leading to flooding and landslips, have claimed 12 lives in the district while 4,320 have been rescued, he said. As the intensity of rains reduced on Monday, the rescue operations reached the last phase, officials said. “About 50,000 affected people will also be given groceries and essential commodities through mobile units,” Kumaraswamy added.

Aug 20, 2018 10:45 pm (IST)

Indian Army has deployed 10 floods relief columns, 8 Engineer Task Force and 110 BsAUT/BsAp/Gemini boats for rescue and relief operations.

Aug 20, 2018 10:42 pm (IST)

NDRF personnel help those stranded during the Kerala floods

Aug 20, 2018 10:20 pm (IST)

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan appeals for help

Aug 20, 2018 10:11 pm (IST)

'Help 337 Odias Stranded in Kerala' | Odisha has urged the Kerala government to provide help to 337 Odias stranded at different flood-ravaged places of the southern state, officials said. The Odisha labour department rushed two officials to Kerala during the day to ensure the safety of Odia labourers. Meanwhile, a special train carrying people from Odisha and northern Andhra Pradesh left Kochuveli (Thiruvananthapuram) station on Monday and is expected to reach Bhubaneswar on August 22, an East Coast Railway (ECoR) official said.

Aug 20, 2018 9:52 pm (IST)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister lists the assistance provided by his state to rain-ravaged Kerala.

Aug 20, 2018 9:43 pm (IST)

Aviation regulator DGCA is monitoring airfares for flights connecting flood-hit Kerala but it should not be seen by airlines as micro-management by the government as this is a unique situation of ‘humanitarian crisis’, civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has said. Amid concerns raised by many, including on social media platforms, about steep fluctuations in air ticket prices to and from Kerala, where the main airport at Kochi has been shut till August 26, Prabhu said the ministry as such cannot interfere with the fares but it is "doing it" in this time of crisis. “It is a unique situation. It is a humanitarian crisis... We have told the airlines that it is not a micro-management job,” he said. If there are any complaints, Prabhu said, the DGCA will take care of them.

Aug 20, 2018 9:40 pm (IST)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu asks Centre to declare Kerala floods a national calamity.

Aug 20, 2018 9:38 pm (IST)

Don't Spread Fake Information, Says Pinarayi Vijayan | Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan warns of stringent action against those spreading fake information at a time when Kerala was striving together as one to overcome the “catastrophic” floods with “monumental strength”. Some people are trying to malign this great effort with misinformation in the form of fake messages on social media. Police have been instructed to take strict measures against such cyber offenders, he said in a Facebook post. Vijayan said it has come to the government's notice that there are some fraudulent messages and posters with altered CMDRF (Chief Ministers Disaster Relief Fund) account numbers. Some of these stated that the disaster relief fund for cyclone Ockhi victims had not been used efficiently, he said.

Aug 20, 2018 9:34 pm (IST)

Ex-Serviceman Booked for Spreading Rumours About Relief Ops | An ex-serviceman has been booked for allegedly spreading false information on flood relief work carried out by the government jointly with defence personnel. Unni Nair, working at a firm which takes in retired army personnel, has been booked for spreading false information on the ongoing relief work, police said. The man posted a video message in the social media, which went viral, soon after which the Army tweeted "Imposter wearing Army combat uniform in video spreading disinformation about rescue & relief efforts. Every effort by all & #IndianArmy aimed to overcome this terrifying human tragedy".

Aug 20, 2018 9:27 pm (IST)

A man salvages the items at his shop after flood water receded at North Paravoor in Kochi on Monday. (PTI Photo)

Aug 20, 2018 9:14 pm (IST)

Central government exempts basic customs duty and IGST for the consignments of aid and relief material being dispatched or imported from abroad

Aug 20, 2018 9:09 pm (IST)

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has asked state government officials to dispatch 500 tonnes of rice to rain-ravaged Kerala. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has thanked Rao for contributing Rs 25 crore financial assistance and officials of the state have also expressed gratitude to their Telangana counterparts for the help, an official release said. In addition to the financial assistance, the Telangana government has also sent water purifying machines and packets of a nutritious food for children in the rain-hit state, it said. “The officials of Kerala requested to help for the supply of rice and the chief minister responded immediately,” it said.

Aug 20, 2018 8:51 pm (IST)

Maharashtra Governor Asks Universities to Help Kerala | Maharashtra governor and chancellor of state universities Ch Vidyasagar Rao has asked vice chancellors of all universities in the state to extend monetary and material support to flood-ravaged Kerala. Maharashtra has 20 universities with student strength of 2.3 million. “The governor has asked the universities and colleges to raise funds and also extend necessary support to Kerala in its relief and rehabilitation effort,” a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said. Secretary to the governor B Venugopal Reddy conveyed the appeal of the governor to all the vice chancellors in the state and asked them to contribute to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for the flood-affected people of Kerala, he said.

Aug 20, 2018 8:50 pm (IST)

Army personnel pack up their material after carrying out rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas of North Paravoor in Kochi on Monday. (PTI Photo)

Aug 20, 2018 8:37 pm (IST)

The army will continue to be engaged in the rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala till the situation stabilised, Southern Command chief Lt Gen DR Soni has said. He also said the army’s medical teams would extend the first line of relief in co-ordination with the government. “There are inaccessible areas and our men will continue to reach out to people who needed to be rescued," he said. Noting that it was not possible to provide the exact number of people stranded, he said the rescue operations by the army had not been called off.

Aug 20, 2018 8:35 pm (IST)

Doing Their Bit for Kerala Flood Victims | Amid donations pouring in to rebuild Kerala which is reeling under the deadliest deluge in a century, two school-going siblings have expressed their desire to handover an acre of land, gifted by their father, to the government to strengthen rehabilitation efforts. In a letter written to school authorities, Class 11 student Swaha and her younger brother Brahma said they would like to donate the land to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. The siblings are the students of a government higher secondary school at Payyannur in northern Kannur district. In the letter addressed to the school principal, they said, “We would like to give a small donation to the CM's relief fund. We have decided to donate one acre land from the one gifted to me and my brother by our father, who is a farmer.”

Aug 20, 2018 8:20 pm (IST)

Navy personnel and volunteers rescue people who were trapped in the flood-hit areas of Thrissur district on Monday. (Coast Guard Photo via PTI)

Aug 20, 2018 8:04 pm (IST)

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor lands in Geneva to meet UN and international humanitarian agencies for consultations on Kerala floods

Aug 20, 2018 8:03 pm (IST)

A flood-affected woman receives food inside a college auditorium, which has been converted into a temporary relief camp, in Kochi, Kerala, on Monday. (Reuters)

Aug 20, 2018 8:01 pm (IST)

The Centre informed the Kerala high court that there was no legal provision to declare a disaster as a national calamity, amid demands for declaring the floods as a national disaster. In an affidavit, the Centre said it has treated the flood situation in Kerala as a ‘Disaster of Serious Nature’ and has categorised the same as ‘L3 Level of Disaster’ under the National Disaster Management Guidelines. “It is submitted that there is no provision in statutes or manuals to declare a disaster as a 'national calamity', howsoever big it may be. It is only an expression used in general parlance,” the Centre said.Besides Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the state and the opposition Congress had wanted the Centre to declare the floods a 'national disaster'.

Aug 20, 2018 7:58 pm (IST)

Approximately 150 rescued people are presently being accommodated at the T2 hangar inside the Naval Base, which has been running as a makeshift relief camp since August 16. The second camp being run at the Naval Kindergarten (NKG) School was, however, shut down as the number of rescued persons reduced drastically and many have already left for their home. Another relief camp set up by the Naval Armament Depot, Aluva has also seen reduction in the numbers. The medical camp, however, continues to provide first aid and other treatment for the needy. 

Aug 20, 2018 7:56 pm (IST)

Water Supply to Kannur City Restored | The navy said a total of 20 rescue teams with one Gemini boat each are deployed in Ernakulam district, one team is at Pizhala island, one at Edapally, seven at Perumbavur, three at North Paravur, one at Aluva and seven at Kadangallur. In Pathanamthitta district, 21 teams are deployed at Chengannur and nine are positioned at Thiruvalla. One specialist diving team airlifted to Kannur successfully undertook diving operations at Pazhassi Dam and was successfully able to remove mud from a landslide blocking the water pumping mechanism, which has enabled restoration of the primary supply of water to Kannur city.

Aug 20, 2018 7:54 pm (IST)

Navy's 'Op Madad' Scaled Down as Flood Situation Improves | The Southern Naval Command has started scaling down #OperationMadad consequent to rains having reduced to a large extent and flood waters starting to recede from many waterlogged areas in Kerala, the navy said in a statement. As of 4.30pm on August 20, the eleventh day of #OperationMadad, the total number of diving teams deployed had been reduced to 51, with 41 teams having returned after completing their rescue mission. A total of 350 people were rescued by boats on August 20, taking the total rescued to 15,993. No requests for rescue by airlift were received; however, 35 air sorties amounting to 62 hours of flying were undertaken by various naval aircraft, mainly for air dropping of relief material — especially food and water.

Aug 20, 2018 7:49 pm (IST)

Three teams of national disaster response force and six of the SDRF, with 80 and 220 personnel respectively, have been deployed in the flood-hit areas in the two Godavari districts. Besides, 118 personnel of the state disaster response and fire services department are also on duty in Andhra Pradesh. They are using 13 boats and 400 life jackets to ferry stranded people to safety, the SDMA said, adding that three satellite phones are also being used for communication in remote villages. Medical teams have also been positioned to tackle any emergency.

Aug 20, 2018 7:47 pm (IST)

Andhra Pradesh on High Alert | With the Godavari and Krishna rivers in spate following rains, the Andhra Pradesh government machinery is on high alert and hundreds of villagers on the banks have been shifted to safer places as many hamlets were inundated, officials said. No loss of life or damage to property has been reported, according to the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA). Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu spoke to collectors of rain-hit districts and asked them to be on high alert. Communication to several villages in the agency area of West Godavari district and island villages in East Godavari remained cut-off. The government has opened 16 relief camps each in West and East Godavari districts for the evacuated villagers. About 2,982 people were lodged in relief camps in East and 6,336 in West Godavari district.

Aug 20, 2018 7:41 pm (IST)

Essential food and medicines being moved to Kerala as rescue and relief operations continue to help those affected by the floods

Aug 20, 2018 7:32 pm (IST)

A flood-affected girl eats her food inside a school that has been converted into a temporary relief camp in Kochi, Kerala, on Monday. (Reuters)

Aug 20, 2018 7:25 pm (IST)

The ministry of petroleum and natural gas has made available 12,000 KL of Kerosene. Adequate arrangements have been made for distribution of LPG cylinders. Adequate aviation fuel is also made available. With regard to cattle fodder, 450 MT has been dispatched. Two lots of veterinary medicines have also been dispatched. Railways have offered to supply required amounts of water and also transport relief material free of cost. Adequate quantities of milk and milk power have been made available by the department of animal husbandry and dairying.

Aug 20, 2018 7:24 pm (IST)

The ministry of power has moved power equipment such as electricity meters, coils, transformers etc. to restore the distribution network. Power generation has reached 2,600 MW and no difficulty is envisaged on this score. The department of telecom has made operational 77,000 [towers out of total 85,000 towers in the state]. Of the 1,407 telephone exchanges, all but 13 are made functional. The DoT has operationalised a helpline with number 1948 to help trace missing persons.

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Kerala Floods LIVE: Centre Exempts GST on Aid Material, Vijayan Says 10 Lakh Still in Relief Camps
An aerial view shows partially submerged houses at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala. (Image: Reuters)



Earlier, lauding the rescue team for their operation in flood-hit state, Southern Army Commander Lt Gen DR Soni said on Monday that his 'boys reached places where lights and helicopters cannot'. Meanwhile, residents of Idukki are trying to get back to normal life after flood waters receded in the region. The ATM service have also been restored, while authorities are working to restore connectivity and communication. As people try to get back to normalcy, News18 brings you a Google Form to help reach local authorities in this time of crisis.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asked officials to ensure that the relief material reaches "inter-state migrant workers" as well. He said that thousands of them have been affected and many lack shelter and food. He directed the authorities during a review meeting on Sunday.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Monday called a review meeting on Kerala floods with Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh and other senior officials. Naidu said that the vice president secretariat has decided to donate a month’s salary for relief and rescue measures in the state. Earlier in the day, Qatar Airways Cargo announced to deliver relief goods to flood-stricken districts free of cost. The airline has asked Qatar citizens to contribute food water, clothes and medicines for the purpose. On the other hand, Japan said that it is ready to provide any assistance when "needed by the Government of India".

Union Minister KJ Alphons said that Kerala now needs skilled people to rebuild it. "All possible assistance is being given. Things are working well and the fishermen have come out as biggest heroes. Kerala is responding well. I thank all for the help and funds. This is what we needed," he said. Earlier in the day, railways restored passenger and express train services in the flood-hit Ernakulam district after "early completion of work in the division". The rise in water level in Periyar had a major impact on the flood situation with waters marooning many houses and commercial establishments in Aluva, Paravur and Perumbavoor.

Meanwhile, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation resumed inter-state bus services to Kerala's Ernakulam, Kottayam, Trissur, Palghat, Calicut, Cannanore and Thiruvananthapuram areas. The government said that they were going to operate 32 buses from Bengaluru towards Kerala sector.

Cochin Naval Base has been thrown open for commercial flight operations from Monday morning, bringing a huge relief to people awaiting resumption of air service from Kochi. However, the International airport will remain shut till August 26. Alliance Air had operated a non-commercial "proving flight" on an ATR (turboprop) aircraft to Kochi's naval base on Sunday with a team of officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and other flight safety officials to examine the feasibility of having operations from the base.

Even as red alert was lifted in several districts in several district on Sunday, the inclement weather in Pathanamthitta district late night posed fresh threat to rescue and relief operations. Water level in Pampa river river, which flows through the district, is likely to have risen after fresh downpour around 1 am. Pathanamthitta District Collector said that the shutters of Kakki-Anathod, Moozhiyar and Pamba reservoirs could be opened soon. The deadliest deluge in close to a century has claimed 210 lives since August 8 and nearly 400 since May 29 when the south west monsoon set in over Kerala. More than 80 dams were opened, leading to floods while the rains also triggered landslides.

The deadly monsoon rains have claimed 210 lives since August 8 and has displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes. In the worst affected Chengannur in Alappuzha district, efforts are on to rescue some of those stranded in certain pockets, including Pandanad. According to India Met Department, a fresh low pressure area has formed over North West Bay of Bengal yesterday.

However, it will not have any significant impact over Kerala, where rainfall is likely to decrease further gradually during the next five days. Rehabilitation will be the next big focus of the state government with most of the marooned having been rescued, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. Rainfall over Kerala during the South West Monsoon (June 1 to Aug 19) has been exceptionally high. Kerala has so far received 2346.6 mm rains against the normal of 1649.5 mm, according to IMD.

High-range Idukki recorded the highest excess rainfall (92 per cent above normal) followed by Palakkad (72 per cent above normal). These two districts had reported several deaths and massive destruction due to flooding and landslides. Thirteen people lost their lives yesterday while 7,24,649 lakh people were housed in 5,645 relief camps across the state.

Rescue operations are in final stages. Around 22,000 people were rescued yesterday alone in the operations launched by the defence personnel, national and state disaster response forces, fishermen and local people.The next big challenge for the government is the epidemic.

The chief minister said in each panchayat six health officers would be deployed to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes. People have started returning home from relief centres with flood waters receding.Many were shocked to see the state of their homes covered with mud and slush as the water receded.
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