Interview | v.k. ramachandran Kerala

‘Formulating a livelihood development package is key factor’

Kerala’s annual Plan for 2019-20 will reflect the needs of post-disaster Kerala, says V.K. Ramachandran, vice chairman of Kerala State Planning Board, a widely respected academic who specialises in agrarian issues. The Planning Board is busy formulating a livelihood development package in the aftermath of the mid-August flood. In a telephonic interview, the noted development economist discussed the need to build climate resilience into development planning.

What will be the role of the Planning Board in ‘Re-building Kerala’?

The State is now moving from relief to rehabilitation and, more generally, towards building a new Kerala. The government has taken this crisis as a challenge and as an opportunity to rebuild the State to ensure better standards of living for all sections of society. Within this, the Chief Minister has given the State Planning Board the task of formulating a livelihood development package.

The floods and landslides caused unprecedented damage to houses, private and public assets, and infrastructure. In addition, there was pervasive damage caused to the sources of livelihood in the State.

Taken together, loss of property and of livelihoods constitutes the biggest challenge with respect to rebuilding Kerala. Natural disaster caused losses of the sources of household income, agricultural and non-agricultural, across the income-spectrum. We also know that trade was hit in the flood-affected areas at a time when Onam inventories were at their peak.

So how are livelihoods to be restored and rebuilt? A livelihood development or rehabilitation package will have to involve credit planning, planning new projects to utilise enhanced funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), skill development, and other measures. The Planning Board will take such needs into account when we coordinate with departments in preparing such a package. The Annual Plan for 2019-20 will also reflect the needs of post-disaster Kerala.

On how Kerala fought back the devastating impact of the deluge and the path ahead.

Kerala has been affected by one of the worst calamities of the century. Global warming and climate change have led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events all over the world.

The heavy downpour in Kerala in August 2018 that caused massive floods and destruction is an illustration of such an event.

The loss of livelihoods, houses, damage to infrastructure, losses to different kinds of public and private assets were unprecedented. I believe that the State demonstrated exceptional capability in undertaking immediate rescue, and relief work during the crisis. People from all corners of the State and all walks of life joined hands in the effort. Kerala has, once again, led by an example of strong public action, both by the government and citizens.

The knowledge, experience, and spirit of civic cooperation gained from decades of local self-government in Kerala is one of the greatest assets of the State in dealing with relief and rehabilitation.

On incorporating climate change into our planning and re-building initiatives.

Climate resilience is a very important part of resource planning. There is a worldwide recognition now about the need to build climate resilience into socio-economic planning.

Land use planning is also an important aspect of ensuring climate resilience. I am sure that together we can lay out a vision for a more disaster-resilient and progressive State.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 10:00:43 AM |

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