NCMC decides to scale up Kerala flood relief, rescue operations

P K Sinha

New Delhi: The country’s apex body to handle emergency situation today decided to scale up relief and rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala by involving the three defence services and other agencies, besides providing essential commodities to marooned people in 14 worst-affected districts.

Chaired by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha and attended by chiefs of the three services, secretaries of home, defence and others, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) took stock of the prevailing situation in Kerala and directed all concerned to ensure continued assistance to the state government to meet the crisis, a home ministry spokesperson said.

The meeting was held following a directive of the Prime Minister. The central government has been providing full support to Kerala and has launched massive relief and rescue operations in the state, the spokesperson said.

In the meeting, the cabinet secretary pressed into service all the forces – Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, National Disaster Response Force and other central armed police forces (CAPFs) and directed that all possible assistance be provided to Kerala for relief and rescue operations.

The cabinet secretary also directed that relief material including supply of drinking water, dry food packets and powdered milk should also be made available to Kerala, the spokesperson said.

For proper reservoir management in Mullaperiyar Dam, the NCMC constituted a committee chaired by Chairman of Central Water Commission and engineers-in-chief of Tamilnadu and Kerala.

As of now, 18 teams of NDRF, 9 columns and 8 teams of Engineering Task Force (ETC) of the Army, 22 teams of Coast Guard, 24 diving teams of Navy along with helicopters, aircrafts, boats, equipment, life buoys, life jackets, etc., have been dispatched to Kerala in rescue operations as well as evacuation of stranded people.

Besides these, medical assistance is also being provided by the NDRF, the Army, the Navy including in special medical camps. So far, 2,182 people have been rescued, 968 stranded people have been evacuated through prompt action of the forces.

The NCMC meeting was also attended by secretaries of Union Water Resources Ministry and chiefs of the Coast Guard, the NDRF, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Chairman, Central Water Commission (CWC) and other senior officers. Kerala Chief Secretary and his team also participated through video conference.

The NCMC will meet again tomorrow to review the situation. The Prime Minister spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan this morning and discussed with him the flood situation.

Modi had spoken to Vijayan yesterday too. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh too had a telephonic conversation with the Kerala chief minister this morning on the prevailing situation.

Singh had spoken to Vijayan twice yesterday. During his visit to Kerala on Sunday, the home minister had announced a Rs-100 crore immediate assistance package.

There was no let-up in the torrential rains in the state. A massive landslide killed eight people in Palakkad district of Kerala this morning. With this, the death toll in the second spell of monsoon fury since 8 August has risen to 75.

Panic-stricken people in marooned buildings and high-rise flats sought help using social media platforms and patients, including those in ICUs, from various hospitals were shifted to safer places.