Thiruvananthapuram: With 13 lakh people put up in relief camps after the devastating floods that ravaged Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday spent time with many of them, hearing to their problems and assured all help.
Vijayan took the helicopter to visit the relief camps in Chengannur, Kozhencherry, Alappuzha, North Paravoor and Chalakudy, covering three districts.
"There is no need for any anxiety, government will provide funds to rebuild homes," Vijayan told the people in the camps, many of them unable to hold back tears.
The Chief Minister, who was monitoring the rescue and relief operations from the Secretariat here, decided to visit the camps to get a first-hand knowledge of the sufferings of the people, many of whom had lost their homes and belongings in the floods, the worst in the last 100 years.
Over 230 persons have been killed in the deluge. The government has also decided to handover kits containing foodgrains, rice, sugar and dal besides clothes for children and nighties for women to people returning homes from relief camps.
As the flood waters receded from their houses, people have complained of snakes, including cobras, crawling all over the place. Many have been bitten by snakes too, they said.
With the rescue operations almost over, a massive clean-up drive of houses and public places filled with mud deposits and debris has begun. One of the major problems being faced is the carcasses of animals floating in water bodies and other places.
Efforts are on to bury them. The government has already disposed of around 5,000 animal remains in the last two days, according to officials.
A control room has been set up here to coordinate the cleaning process across the state, official sources said adding civic bodies have been entrusted with the task of managing the work.
Over 50,000 volunteers have taken up the task of cleaning up houses and public places filled with mud deposits and debris dumped by the floods.
Squads with electricians and plumbers will also be visiting homes to provide necessary help to the people, officials said.
A political row erupted on Wednesday over the issue of accepting foreign aid, even as relief materials and donations to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) have started pouring in.
The issue surfaced after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government offered USD 100 million (around Rs 700 crore) for flood relief works in Kerala.
Attacking the Union government for what he called its 'negative stance' to the UAE government's offer, Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said the NDM Policy had not imposed a ban on accepting foreign aid and wanted the state to be compensated.
"We made no request to any foreign gov but UAE gov voluntarily offer 700cr. No, says Union gov, it is below our dignity to accept foreign aid. This is a dog in the manger policy," he tweeted.
The CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state was of the view that foreign aid should be accepted, even as the centre made it clear it would not accept cash donations from foreign countries as per a long-standing policy.
Vijayan had said that there were no obstacles to receive foreign aid as per the National Disaster Management (NDM) Policy 2016 announced by the Centre and the government would approach Prime minister, Narendra Modi, if needed.
The state has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 20,000 crore (as per a preliminary estimate) and had sought an interim assistance of Rs 2,600 crore from the Centre, besides a special package of a similar amount under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA)