August 21, 2018
CPI(M) General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury has written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, on the need to enhance the central assistance given to flood ravaged Kerala as also the other measures that need to be taken. The full text of the letter is released herewith:
Dear Pradhan Mantri ji,
I wished to seek your time to appraise you on my visit to Kerala on August 19-20 and to request the Government of India to consider the following urgent measures for relief and rehabilitation of lakhs of people who have suffered this unprecedented damage caused by the recent floods.
People of India were glad that you visited and surveyed the damage. You appreciated the fact that the state government and the authorities there have done a tremendous job of rescuing over ten lakh marooned people. This is a rescue operation of an unprecedented dimension in the recent times. You have sanctioned Rs. 500 crores of central assistance, but this is grossly inadequate in the light of the extensive damage that has been caused. I would request you to increase this amount to Rs. 2000 crores and urge you to respond positively given the urgency that is warranted.
I had visited the relief camps in three districts including the worst affected district of Alappuzha. The inmates were satisfied with the conditions in the camps but were most agonized over the fact that their homes have been washed away and all their possessions destroyed. Their overriding concern is how to face the future. Massive resources would be required for the rehabilitation of these people. Hence the request for the release of more central funds immediately.
New homes will have to be built for the lakhs of people. Under the central scheme of Pradhan Mantri Awaz Yojana, substantial funds must be released for this purpose. I would also urge the Central government to take up this matter with the United Nations agencies seeking assistance for building new homes.
These unprecedented floods have destroyed tens of hundreds of bridges and roads in the state. With 40 of the 41 rivers that flow in the state being in spate, communications vital for relief and rehabilitation work are seriously disrupted. In order to rebuild the communication networks it is urged that the central government agencies like the National Highway Authority and other central agencies be asked to deploy their resources and personnel. In addition, the Indian Army’s Engineering Corps and the Border Roads Organisations which have rich experience in building roads and bridges under difficult circumstances must be asked to assist the state governments efforts in this direction.
As the waters recede, serious health concerns will arise. To assist the state government’s efforts in meeting this situation, the central government must request the Army’s Medical Corps to be deployed in areas that the state government would decide and also to request that institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to constitute medical teams to provide relief and prevent epidemics from arising. The Central government may also approach the World Health Organisation in this connection for assistance.
The people of Kerala have shown an indomitable spirit and solidarity in meeting the current challenges. Donations of money and material are pouring in from various quarters. Medical equipment is also being sent from organisations of Malayalees in various countries. I request you to waive the duties on such materials as they are being sent for urgent relief and rehabilitation work.
You will recollect that during the discussion on the GST Bill I had raised concerns in parliament on how the state government could raise resources required to meet such natural disasters. The central government had, then assured that such provisions would be made when such circumstances arise. Though no such provisions were provided, now is the time to redeem the assurance from the government on the floor of the house and allow the state government of Kerala to take required measures by relaxing the concerned GST provisions.
The Chief Minister of Kerala has announced that the first Phase of the rescue operation is more or less complete. Now come the problems of the next phase concerning rehabilitation; restoring communication links and overcoming the possible health hazards.
I request you to consider the proposals I have made on these scores with the seriousness that they merit. Urging you to implement these measures with the urgency that is required with humanitarian considerations.
Shri Narendra Modi