Nirmala Sitharaman to visit flood-hit Kodagu today

Madikeri: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will today visit the flood and landslide-ravaged Kodagu district, bordering Kerala, where rescue and relief operations are underway in full swing.

The torrential rains that lashed the district last week has left a huge trail of destruction and claimed at least 17 lives.

More than 5,000 people have been rendered homeless. Sitharaman is expected to reach Kushalnagar tomorrow morning and scheduled to visit affected areas and talk to people there, the Karnataka BJP said.

She will then travel to landslide-hit areas of Madapur and take stock of the situation. After that, she is scheduled to visit a relief camp in Madikeri and interact with the inmates there.

The defence minister will also hold meetings with the district administration and other officials at the Deputy Commissioner’s office on the relief and rehabilitation work.

Sitharaman, a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, is the second Union minister to visit the flood-ravaged district, after D V Sadananada Gowda, who hails from the state.

Her visit comes a day after state BJP Chief B S Yeddyurappa said he had apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the situation in Kodagu.

Meanwhile, former chief minister Siddaramaiah along with Pradesh Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao visited affected areas of the district and took stock of the situation yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Siddaramaiah urged Modi to visit Kodagu, assess the loss that have taken place and release adequate relief from the centre.

The Prime Minister should have visited Kodagu, when he visited Kerala, he said, referring to Modi undertaking an aerial survey in the neighbouring state where unprecedented floods claimed 231 lives and displaced lakhs since 8 August.

Siddaramaiah, who is also the chief of the Congress-JD(S) coordination committee, complemented the government for the relief work undertaken and said it has to speed up.

He said he has asked the officials to come up with programmes to provide permanent housing for those affected and to help students; he also said to prevent recurrence of such floods an expert committee has to be constituted.

With rains subsiding in the last couple of days, relief and rehabilitation work have gained momentum in Kodagu, where operations to rescue those stranded due to floods and landslides have by and large been completed, according to officials.

The administration was now focusing on providing relief and rehabilitating those at the relief camps, clearing blocked roads and restoring electricity.

However, a total of 1,019 rescuers from various agencies are stationed in Kodagu and are screening villages along with NGOs and local community.

An amount of Rs 30 crore has been released to Kodagu by the state government to take up relief works, officials said, adding that engineers and personnel from Madras Engineer Group are being deputed to Kodagu for road restoration and debris clearance.

Schools that were shut for over 20 days reopened yesterday, with teachers conducting classes to students at relief camps across the district.

Fifty-one relief camps have been set up in Kodagu that are currently housing 5,041 people, including 4,450 who were rescued and brought to safety till yesterday evening.

According to preliminary estimates, around 2,200 houses have been damaged. In Dakshina Kannada, another flood-hit district, five deaths have been reported and over 361 houses damaged.

Officials said a three-member team from NGRI (National Geophysical Research Institute) headed by Ragavan visited Kodagu and set up a seismic monitoring centre in a school to closely monitor seismic activity in and around the area.

Also, the team comprising Dr Srinivasa Reddy, Director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre and Dr H M S Prakash (former DDG, GSI) are conducting geo-technical studies in landslide-affected region of Mangaluru.

Noting that there was loss of certificates, documents and identity cards due to flooding, officials said the government will set up common service centres that will act as single-window system to issue duplicate of these documents free of cost.