Rebuilding Kerala: Over 60,000 Volunteers Including Ministers Are Cleaning Up Flood-Hit Kuttanad

30 Aug 2018 6:22 AM GMT
Rebuilding Kerala: Over 60,000 Volunteers Including Ministers Are Cleaning Up Flood-Hit Kuttanad
Image Credits: News18, Deepika Global�

After facing devastation by the worst flood of the century, Kerala is slowly and steadily moving back to normalcy. In what can be described as one of the biggest ever cleaning mission in India following a natural calamity, volunteers exceeding 60,000 in number have reached Kerala and started their mission in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district, one of the worst hit in Kerala floods.

As Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan so eloquently put it, “We will all get down to it. Homeowners can’t do it themselves, can they?” This is most probably the first of its kind clean-up mission, in which volunteers from different parts have come together to join hands for a joint task. According to News18, volunteers for the massive clean-up campaign that kicked off in Kuttanad, including doctors, engineers, electricians, plumbers, snake catchers and even ministers and bureaucrats. A nine-member team of electricians has come from Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district under the initiative of CPM to join the relief efforts.

How it came together

According to The News Minute, the drive was announced by PWD Minister G.Sudhakaran and Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac after evaluating the flood situation on August 24. They received an overwhelming response for the drive, with the number of registered volunteers currently exceeding 60000. “90 per cent of volunteers who had registered online for this campaign, have now reached Kuttanad. Most of them are students and young professionals. We are hoping to bring in more volunteers from across the state and outside,” Minister Thomas Isaac told News18.

സത്യം പറയട്ടെ , എത്ര പേര്‍ പങ്കെടുത്തു എന്ന് തിട്ടം പറയാന്‍ ആവുന്നില്ല . ക്യാമ്പുകളില്‍ നിന്ന് പകുതിയിലേറെ ആളുകള്‍…

Posted by Dr.T.M Thomas Isaac on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

“The work has been completed in over 16 panchayats. This includes houses, public places and places of worship. Though the initial plan is to complete the drive by August 30, it would take more time as a large number of houses are still waterlogged,” said Minister Sudhakaran while he was talking to the Media.

For all the volunteers who signed up online and arrived for the mission, the accommodation has been arranged by the district administration. Proper preventive medicines like tetanus shots have also been administered for these volunteers to prevent infections from cuts and bruises.

Meticulously Organized task force

The cleaning campaign which was put together in record time is far from haphazard. It has been meticulously planned from beginning to end and is already underway. The drive will focus on cleaning houses, hospitals, educational institutions among many other buildings. The very first plan of action is cleaning and restoring hospitals. Reportedly, Pulimkunnu Taluk hospital in Kuttanad has been cleaned up and restored as of Tuesday.

Bureaucrats of the area including panchayats secretaries are supervising the cleaning operations. Timber lorries are being used to ferry volunteers back and forth the affected areas. The Kerala Fire force does the initial cleaning using their high-pressure water jets. After the cleaning teams and snake catchers are done with their work, the Kerala electricity board will bring in engineering students to check the wirings and connections to make sure everything is safe and working properly. Volunteers are moving from house to house, removing mud and flood waste, restoring electricity and plumbing, and repairing doors and windows. According to Indian Express, the PWD Minister had claimed that 60,000 houses and 40,000 buildings need to be restored.

While the massive cleaning mission is underway, at the Nehru Trophy Boat Race finishing point on Punnamada lake, hundreds of boats are being loaded with relief materials under the supervision of Minister Thomas Isaac. These boats will carry the relief materials to areas which are still inaccessible via road.

Ministers’ Take

The PWD Minister Sudhakaran, who is a former lawyer, poet and widely known for his controversial comments, was seen knee deep in dirt directing the clean up at a farmers house. When News18 asked how he felt doing the hands-on work, he replied, “Am I not an ordinary person? I am from this land. I know every field, every path in this place. I am not like some central ministers who talk about Kerala sitting in Delhi. If you are a minister, you have to get your hands dirty… help the people.”

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has estimated the current investment needed to rebuild Kerala to its former glory to be Rs 1 lakh crore. With the August 30 deadline for the cleaning operations, the state government is hoping to send 1.5 lakh of the 2 lakh camp residents back to their home by this time. It is a huge challenge, given that there are people from 226 wards in 16 panchayats who need rehabilitation, and most of these places still don’t have any road access.

The Logical Indian take

While many hate peddlers are using internet for trolling the state and its people, the volunteers in rebuilding Kerala are moving forward, using their strength and resources, with the outpour of support coming from all around the country and the world, focusing on the positives and ignoring naysayers. A state proud of its religious diversity and gender equality, Kerala looks focused on rising stronger together.

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