Even as rain continues to lash several parts of the State, causing rivers to overflow and flooding in some urban areas, the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has accused the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) of lacking district-specific meticulous disaster management plans.
Raising the issue during the Question Hour in the Assembly on Tuesday, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan alleged that lack of effective plans was having a serious impact on disaster preparedness. The State had been battered by natural disasters every year since 2018. Advance preparation, disaster warnings, rehabilitation, and calamity mitigation plans should be prepared precisely depending on the situation in each district, he said, urging the government to rope in private agencies for weather prediction.
Denying the Opposition charge, Minister for Revenue K. Rajan said the Orange Book for disaster management for this year had been published. Similarly, the State had put in place detailed mechanisms for ascertaining everything from the route of a river and the time taken for the water released from dams to reach various places downstream depending on the volume released since 2018 to avoid disasters.
He clarified that the State government was receiving weather inputs not only from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) but also private agencies such as Skymet Weather Services, IBM’s The Weather Company, and Earth Networks. Talks were on with Cochin University of Science and Technology’s (Cusat) Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research too on providing inputs.
The government, Mr. Rajan said, was making interventions to prevent the impact of disasters such as cyclones or excessive and sudden rainfall. However, often these occurred despite the leaps made in forecasting. The recent landslip at Kudayathoor in Idukki was an example. The last such disaster there had occurred 70 years ago. The situation in many other places was beyond prediction.
A flood susceptibility map was being prepared in the State, the Minister said. Micro-plans of areas vulnerable to floods were to be prepared by institutions designated by the Union government. However, owing to the delay in their preparation, the State had taken up the task of their preparation and published these, becoming the first in the country to do so, he said.
The State had also asked the Union government for more help in climate forecasting. At present, the State had only one doppler radar in Kochi. One doppler radar of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram could be used only during the monsoon, while there was no such facility in north Kerala. The Chief Minister had written to the Union government for doppler radars for both these regions a number of times, he pointed out.
The Minister said the government was considering setting up a high-altitude rescue hub each in Idukki district and on the border of Wayanad-Kozhikode districts.