Opposition slams Kerala Government over poor flood response, walks out of Assembly

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Monday, blaming the Government for shoddy flood disaster response.

The UDF said it saw no merit in the Government's imputation that the Indian Meteorological Department's (IMD) inaccurate weather warning had led the State's disaster preparedness astray in Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts on October 16.

Congress legislator Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who sought the leave of the House to move an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, said extreme weather had caught the Government flat-footed for the fourth year in a row.

As usual, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority's (KSDMA) leading weather expert was on a foreign jaunt. The official was on a similar junket when the Ockhi Cyclone struck Kerala in 2017, he said.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the KSDMA, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had repeatedly displayed its ineptitude in climate risk mitigation. The administration has tried to tarnish the IMD again to whitewash the KSDMA's failures.

Minister’s defence

Revenue Minister K. Rajan defended the State's disaster response. He reiterated that the IMD had issued no warning about extreme rainfall (red alert) in the State on October 16.

The lack of a definite rainfall warning for Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta had pre-empted the Government from deploying National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) units and Army teams in the vulnerable regions in advance.

Mr. Rajan said the IMD had only predicted moderate rainfall (green alert) for Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, prompting the Government to move the Central forces to districts where orange and yellow warnings prevailed.

Mudslips had isolated the localities from the rest of the State. Floodwaters had submerged roads, rivers and bridges along the route. The IAF and the Navy could not deploy helicopters for the rescue because of the inclement weather, he said.

Poor consultation

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the IMD issued only general warnings. The Government should have consulted other informed sources, including NASA, that routinely predicted weather at the micro-level.

The Thrissur District Collector had on October 14 sent an extreme rainfall alert for several districts after tracking the movement of low-pressure systems over the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.

He said the Government should urgently decentralise disaster management and formulate location-specific climate risk mitigation plans.

The State must imperatively conduct flood and mudslip zone mapping and relocate people away from disaster-prone localities. Future constructions should be climate change-resilient, he said.

Speaker M. B. Rajesh rejected the adjournment motion.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 5:04:10 AM |

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