India’s communists call for aid in the wake of ‘unprecedented’ Kerala floods
BY MORNING STAR
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has appealed for donations to rescue and relief operations in the wake of “unprecedented” flooding in the state of Kerala, located on the southwestern coastal tip of India.
At least 167 people have been killed in the last week as torrential monsoon rain triggered flooding, landslides and home and bridge collapses. It brings the total fatalities in the state to more than 300 since May.
Rescuers are working to move those marooned by the rising waters to over a thousand state-run camps which are now sheltering more than 150,000 people.
All districts in the state and a total of 1,654 villages have been affected, the CPI-M said, while the metro system in Kerala’s largest city Kochi was suspended on Thursday after water entered station yards.
More than 30,000 hectares [75,000 acres] of farmland have been damaged and hundreds of homes rendered uninhabitable.
“The politburo of CPI-M fervently appeals to people of the entire country to contribute generously to aid the rescue and relief operations,” a party statement read.
“Given the urgency, party members, sympathizers and the general public are requested to rush their individual contributions either through drafts/cheques drawn in favor of the party or send it directly to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.”
Kerala’s communist Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijaram has asked people to use a web portal set up by the state government where help can be requested and details — rescue, or supply of food, drinking water, clothes or medicine — entered. A free hotline has also been established.
Mr. Vijaram has also warned against the spread of “fake news” leading people to panic over unconfirmed reports such as rumors of a looming fuel shortage that caused gridlock at petrol stations and speculation that the giant Mullaperiyar dam might burst.
He did, however, appeal to neighboring state of Tamil Nadu to draw more water from the reservoir behind the dam, which has risen to its maximum safe level of 142 ft. “For the first time in history, 27 dams in the State had to be opened. Never before had the State witnessed a calamity of this scale.”
India’s navy has also been deployed to help with the mammoth rescue effort, with Kerala calling for more troops to be deployed by central government to assist. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged all necessary help.
Monsoon rains kill hundreds every year in India, with 2018’s total for the country more than 800 people so far.
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