Monsoon: Residents on Periyar banks in search of safe accommodation fearing floods

K Padmarajan

Kochi: As heavy rains continue to lash the state with the beginning of monsoon, residents on the banks of Periyar river are worried about the floods which had devastated the place in the last two years. They have started preparations to shift to safer places fearing the havoc. The residents complained that the authorities did not take any action to remove the alluvial soil and sand which was deposited in the river during last two floods.

Though the local government bodies demanded immediate action, no further development was made in this regard.

Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur district administration authorities have to jointly take effort for cleaning Periyar river.

As the experts have issued flood warnings during this monsoon in Kerala, residents on the Periyar banks have started search for rented houses. Expecting another deluge, people are shifting their furniture and other items to safer places. Some have already shifted expensive items to the upper storey of the house to avoid damage during floods.

It is reported that the people started searching for rented houses assuming that relief camps will not be safe amid COVID-19 outbreak.

Though the government has directed local bodies to arrange relief camps in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is reported that most of the panchayats lack such safe places. The public representatives have already informed the matter to the government. But, the government has not responded to it yet.

Anticipating the crisis, the public representatives have asked the public to arrange shelter by themselves.

The discussions to remove mud from Periyar river started a few days before the monsoon. The state disaster management authority is taking the necessary action as demanded by the public representatives.

Last December, the government had directed all district collectors to remove the mud and waste from rivers. The order issued in this regard also empowered the district collectors to take immediate action without environmental clearance. But nobody took it as a serious matter of concern.

Though various orders in this regard were issued on February 25 and April 30, further action was not taken in this regard.

The authority also neglected the need to rejuvenate the river through local bodies under the Disaster Management Act. At the same time, a tender was issued to remove the sand from the river at Piravam in Ernakulam district.

However, local bodies have requested the disaster management authority to remove it as mud has been deposited in almost all places.

The files seeking post-flood cleaning of rivers have just started to move in the offices for approval after public representatives intervened in the matter. But neither the officials nor the public expect a solution soon.

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