UDF walks out, accuses govt. of abandoning calamity victims

RBKI a white elephant: Satheesan

August 09, 2021 07:49 pm | Updated 07:50 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Monday, stating that the government’s Rebuild Kerala Initiative (RBKI) had failed the victims of the catastrophic floods and landslips that ravaged the State since 2019.

Congress legislator T. Siddique moved an adjournment notice to discuss the government’s abject failure to rehabilitate the survivors of the landslips in Wayanad (Puthumala-2019), Idukki (Pettimudy-2021), and Malappuram (Kavalapara-2019).

Many deaths remained uncertified due to failure to find the bodies. The survivors of the missing had no scope of getting compensation. Most still lived in relief camps or rented houses. They had lost their small tracts of farmland to the avalanche of mud.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the RBKI had received ₹1,779 crore from the World Bank to reconstruct flood and landslip ravaged Kerala. Nearly ₹5,000 crore flowed as aid into the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. But, the fund surplus had not aided the people.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) had allocated ₹1,000 crore to rebuild Kerala and rehabilitate the natural disaster hit population in the 2019-20 Budget. “But not a dime was spent. Instead, the LDF dubiously diverted the amount for other purposes,” Mr. Satheesan said.

The RBKI incurred huge bills, including office refurbishment and engaging expensive consultancies, that ran into crores of rupees. It was a white elephant that had served none except the bureaucracy. The CPI(M) cadres had illegally diverted flood relief funds in Kochi. Many ineligible persons with party affiliation had made it to the compensation list.

Revenue Minister K. Rajan said the government had compensated the victims and rehabilitated most. It would rectify anomalies, if any. The government had prepared Kerala to meet the challenges posed by climate change. It had set up a resilient incident response system for one.

Desilting of rivers and inland waterways under the “More Room for Rivers” programme was under way. Speaker M.B. Rajesh denied the UDF’s notice.

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