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Never in the history of India, the people of the god’s own country had been this severely affected. The nature’s fury has paralyzed the entire state, as the catastrophe and torrid pounding inflicted by the rain god made the people run helter-skelter to save their life. Landslides and surging rivers have severely damaged roads, bridges and electricity supply in hilly and low-lying areas in 11 out of 14 districts in the State.

It was astonishing to note that while the pathetic plight of the victims were on the increase day-by-day, the ruling and the opposition parties had started indulging in gaining political mileage over the calamity than of addressing the grave issue in right earnest, much to the chagrin and discomfiture of the people.

However, the recent startling reports by some television channels and a section of print media suggest that the United Arab Emirates did not offer Rs 700 crore as aid to the Kerala Government, as claimed by Chief Minister Pinnarayi Vijayan. It was apparent when the UAE Ambassador flatly denied any such offer emanating from his government. Mr Vijayan was also vehemently criticised for sharing it with the media while addressing a press conference on this issue. Sources in the BJP alleged that the issue was manipulated by the Congress and the CPI (M) sympathizers through Facebook to malign the BJP Government. It may be recalled that the Centre was earlier blamed for providing only Rs 600 crore as financial assistance to a natural calamity, whereas a small country like UAE was willing to outwit India by donating Rs 700 crore. Grapevines in the political circle revealed that some critics of the BJP Government tried to cover up the issue by stating that the huge sum was offered by a UAE-based Industrialist, but the concerned businessman denied any such knowledge on the issue. 

Interestingly, the Kerala Government in an affidavit filed in Supreme Court had charged the Tamil Nadu Government for allegedly ignoring its repeated entreaties for controlled release of water from the reservoir to facilitate the evacuation of thousands living downstream. The government led by Pinnarayi Vijay also lambasted the government led by Edappadi A. Palanisamy on shunning aside its request to gradually release water from Mullaiperiyar dam at least at 139 feet. The Kerala Government said, that their pleading on Mullaiperiyar dam had virtually fallen on deaf-ear of the Tamil Nadu Government. The Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam, however, denied the charges of the Kerala government as baseless and absurd when he made it crystalclear that it would be well-nighimpossible for his government to release water at a stretch.

It may be noted, that the Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose also lodged his government’s complaint in the Apex Court, that in spite of making a request to the Tamil Nadu Government to facilitate his district administration and State Disaster Management Authority to get sufficient time to evacuate people, as they would not be hit by the flash floods in their sleep in the stealth of the night, no positive assurances emanated from the Tamil Nadu Government led by Edapaddi Palanisamy. As a matter of fact, water from the Mullaiperiyar reservoir was suddenly discharged by opening all the 13 shutters to Idukki downstream in the wee hours on August 15, alleged the Kerala Government, before adding that it is imperative that the reservoir must have enough maneuverability to avert loss of human lives in floods and other crisis in the future.

The gravity of the situation would not have percolated deep down the corridor, had not the Congress leader and leader of Opposition in Kerala, Ramesh Chennithala not blamed his government for opening of shutters of 44 dams simultaneously without any prior warning signal. The Congress also termed it as a man-made disaster and virtually demanded a judicial probe into the circumstances that led to the fiasco. The Chief Minister, however, dismissed the charges of his bête-noire Chennithala as cold-blooded lies by uttering that the State can manage its 82 dams without any problem, even while tackling the unprecedented rain.

K.V. Venugopal

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