Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 10 (PTI) Citing the double blow of COVID-19 and monsoon fury, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday demanded that the states be allowed to use funds fully from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for the fight against the pandemic, removing the current 25 per cent limit.
Raising the demand during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference with Chief Ministers of flood-hit states, he also said the state was facing the monsoon havoc for the third year in a row and the floods have come at a time when the coronavirus cases were rising.
Briefing the media later, Vijayan said the states had been facing a financial burden due to the setting up of COVID-19 testing and quarantine facilities.
“Therefore, generous assistance is expected from the Centre to meet this expenditure. The floods too have come at a time when the numbers of COVID-19 patients are increasing. The current monsoon has had a major impact on the economic condition of the state battling the pandemic,” Vijayan said.
He also said the state has informed the Prime Minister that a comprehensive report on the losses incurred by the state will be submitted to the Centre.
Vijayan said he thanked the Prime Minister for sending ten NDRF companies to Kerala to deal with the floods, for the assistance provided by the NDRF in rescue operations in the aftermath of the landslide at Idukki Rajamalai and after the Karipur plane crash.
“The state has taken all possible precautions and preparations to deal with the ongoing heavy rains. Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Wayanad and Idukki are the worst affected districts. People have been evacuated from dangerous areas,” he said.
He also informed that 686 relief camps have been set up in compliance with COVID-19 protocol and 22,830 people from 6,967 families have been accommodated there.
Vijayan said he also informed the Prime Minister that the landslide at Idukki was not due to any human intervention and that the region was not considered as a place prone to natural disasters.
Health Minister K K Shailaja, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan, Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta, and state Police chief Loknath Behra were also present for the video- conference meeting with the Prime Minister.