District given only Rs.50 lakh to meet disaster expenses.

With only Rs.50 lakh as “advance” fund to meet disaster expenses this monsoon, the district authorities have a tough task ahead to manage relief camps even as the monsoon gains in strength with each passing day.

“Losses have been calculated at Rs.67 lakh so far, and we have written to the State government for more funds,” said District Collector C.A. Latha.

In probably the first relief camp to be opened here at the Government U.P. School opposite the Kozhikode taluk office on Monday, four-year-old Swetha Shivan cries for her lost doll in a classroom under the dim light of a 40-Watt bulb.

The classroom, its floor tattooed with muddy footmarks, serves as a makeshift relief camp for three families whose houses have been partially submerged following non-stop rain in the district for the past 24 hours.

Shivan A., her young father who works as a beautician in the city, tries to console the child. Her mother, a frail woman in a nightdress, is blank-faced, too weary for words. “There was knee-deep water in our house since last night. But we adjusted. We came to this camp with only a few clothes. Everything else was destroyed in the water,” Mr. Shivan said.

The three families, from Kaloottivayal, Vellurthazham and Ayyappankavu of Vengeri village here, are among the first cases of evacuation within city limits caused by the incessant downpour. On Monday, the city’s drains overflowed and traffic in many major roads came to a standstill due to water-logging.

“About 20 houses in our area were partially submerged. Some people refused to come despite the tahsildar urging them to shift to the relief camp. People in two-storey houses have moved to the upper floor, others have left for relatives’ homes,” Hassan K, a member of one of the three families, said. Both Shivan and Hassan live in the same house as tenants. They claim that they have nowhere else to go.

Deputy Mayor P.T. Abdul Latheef, who visited the camp, said the local village office was trying to arrange food and mattresses for the families in the classroom.

“By tomorrow something can be arranged. But tonight we have to feed them somehow,” he said, without elaborating further on the district’s contingency plans for similar emergency evacuations and provisions for relief camps. “In disaster-prone areas, we have arranged for relief camps to be opened in local schools,” Additional District Magistrate K.P. Ramadevi said.

The district will have to meet the expenses of running relief camps, providing evacuee families food and water, pay ex-gratia to the “bereaved families” and even cover for repairs to damaged houses.

All this, the officials say, have to be met with the advance money of Rs. 50 lakh until further funds are provided by the government for the district. Some of the areas prone to landslips are Thiruvambady, Puthupadi, Kodanchery, Kavilumpara, Maruthonkara, Chakkittapara and Panangad. “We have opened a control room helpline number (0495-23071002). Facilities are being arranged. One or two classrooms in local government schools will be used as relief camps. In case there are more families, the school concerned will be naturally closed,” a senior official said.

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