Kerala HC asks state government about setting up exclusive fund for flood relief; govt says CMDRF will not be 'diverted'

Kochi: The Kerala high court Wednesday sought the state government's view on the possibility of setting up a separate fund for carrying out flood-relief operations in Kerala.

During the hearing, the state government informed the court it would explore all possibilities of central aid as well as international assistance within the framework of the National Disaster Management Plan, 2016 to face the challenge of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar, was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by AA Shibi from Idukki, seeking that the recent floods be declared a 'national disaster'.

File photo of Kerala high court. PTI

File photo of Kerala high court. PTI

The court sought the government's view on the possibility of setting up a separate fund as it wanted to ensure that relief funds are exclusively used for flood relief.

The government informed the court that the money collected in the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF) would not be diverted for any other purpose. Everything is properly accounted for, the government said.

As far as the post-disaster phase was concerned, the Kerala government and Kerala Disaster Management Authority were undertaking rehabilitation and reconstruction activities based on the damage assessment, the government said in a statement.

Preliminary estimates put the total loss caused by the floods at about Rs 20,000 crore (up to 17 August), it said, adding the long-term effects of the disaster would be difficult to assess at this stage.

This is indicative of the enormity of the challenges facing the state in rehabilitation and reconstruction, the government said.

It said the government's strategy, in tune with the current global approach, would be to take the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phase as an opportunity to "Build Back Better" (BBB) — integrating disaster-risk reduction into development measures, making communities resilient to disasters.

The approach would be comprehensive so as to convert adversity into opportunity, it said.

Additional systems for providing psycho-social support and trauma counselling need to be developed for implementation during the reconstruction and recovery phase, it said.

The rehabilitation package will include total reconstruction of the damaged physical infrastructure, as well as the economic and social rehabilitation of the people in the affected areas, it said.

It will involve efforts and financial commitments far beyond the state's resources.

The government would therefore explore all possibilities of central aid as well as international assistance within the framework of the National Disaster Management Plan, 2016, it said.

The government informed the court that for the purpose of rehabilitation, reconstruction and dealing with environmental issues, a comprehensive plan would be prepared in consultation with experts and stakeholders.


Updated Date: Aug 30, 2018 07:43 AM

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