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Rains abate, flood waters recede as relief pours into Kerala

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Kerala Floods

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 20 (IANS) With the rains that battered Kerala for a week finally abating on Monday, water levels dropped in the swollen rivers even as the number of people who have taken shelter in relief camps crossed the one million mark.

A total of 10,28,000 people were now housed in 3,274 camps in the flood-hit districts, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media while tonnes of emergency aid poured in from all over the country.

Officials have so far admitted to some 370 deaths, most of them occurring after the monsoon rains turned into a fury on August 9, forcing authorities to open the sluice gates of numerous dams across the state.

Monday did see some people return to their homes from camps in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram and parts of Pathanamthitta after volunteers working selflessly helped to clean up their muddy homes.

Fifty cases of snake bites were reported in these areas as snakes from overflowing ponds had entered homes, the officials and volunteers said.

Rains in the catchment areas of the major dams in Idukki district subsided. The outflow of water from both the Mullaperiyar and Idukki dams has been reduced.

As a result, the water intake into the Periyar and its tributaries that flow through Ernakulam and Thrissur has come down considerably.

By and large the sky was clear on Monday.

On Monday, helicopters were engaged in rescue operations in places where people were still marooned — in parts of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts. Small boats helped to ferry people from interior Chengannur and Pandalam areas.

Other helicopters transported food and relief materials from here to affected areas.

Finance Minister Thomas Issac, who is overseeing the rescue operations in Kuttanadu area in Alappuzha district, said 1.25 lakh people had been moved to relief camps in the district.

Neliyamapathy in Palakkad remained cut off from the main district headquarters as the roads have been badly damaged. Essential items are being airdropped.

An Army officer said the roads would be made motorable, at least for jeeps, on Tuesday.

Waters in the Cochin airport, which was shut on August 15 after flood waters entered the operational area, receded on Monday. Small aircraft started operating from the Cochin Naval airbase.

On Monday, following a request from the Kerala government, the State Level Bankers Committee decided to provide a moratorium on agricultural loans for a year.

While seeking help was the prerogative of the Indian government, “I am here in close consultation with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to explore what help could be possible”, he tweeted.

The central government flew 100 tonnes of pulses and 52 tonnes of emergency medicines to Kerala, which is receiving donations in cash and kind from all over the country. Volunteers have also poured in from many states.

State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran said that all those who suffered property losses would be compensated.

The railways started operations in the Kottayam and Shornur routes.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corp too began services from many depots and it was expected to be fully functional in a day or two.

Kerala has faced the heaviest rains and floods since 1924, leading to unprecedented destruction.

Indian Navy personnel carry out rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala’s Thrissur on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/DPRO)

Indian Army personnel carry out rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala’s Chengannur, on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Twitter/@adgpi)

 Kerala floods

Mumbai: A team of Doctors leave for Kerala along with medical relief material as part of the Maharashtra Government’s initiative to help the victims of the flood-hit Kerala, in Mumbai on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

Kerala Floods

Thiruvalla: Indian Air Force sets up a medical camp for flood-affected people of Thiruvalla in Kerala on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

Kerala Floods

Kochi: Passengers at the Kochi Naval Airport on Aug 20, 2018. Commercial flight operations commenced on Monday from the Naval airport of Kochi after the Cochin International Airport was shut down following heavy rains and floods in Kerala. (Photo: IANS)

Kerala Floods

Kerala: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel distribute relief material amongst flood-affected people, in Kerala on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

  • Kerala Floods

    Chengannur: Indian Army personnel carry out rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala's Chengannur, on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Twitter/@adgpi)

  • Kerala floods

  • Kerala floods

    Mumbai: A team of Doctors leave for Kerala along with medical relief material as part of the Maharashtra Government's initiative to help the victims of the flood-hit Kerala, in Mumbai on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

  • Kerala Floods

    Thiruvalla: Indian Air Force sets up a medical camp for flood-affected people of Thiruvalla in Kerala on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

  • Kerala Floods

    Kochi: Passengers at the Kochi Naval Airport on Aug 20, 2018. Commercial flight operations commenced on Monday from the Naval airport of Kochi after the Cochin International Airport was shut down following heavy rains and floods in Kerala. (Photo: IANS)

  • Kerala Floods

    Kerala: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel distribute relief material amongst flood-affected people, in Kerala on Aug 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

  • Kerala Floods
  • Kerala floods
  • Kerala floods
  • Kerala Floods
  • Kerala Floods
  • Kerala Floods

Cities

Road links in Himachal hampered after snowfall; hundreds stranded

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Himachal Pradesh snowfall

Shimla, Jan 23: Road links in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday were hampered a day after widespread snow and rain, blocking highways and link roads, while hundreds of commuters were stranded across the state, officials said here.

Snow hit vehicular movement beyond Shimla town, while traffic on the Pathankot-Chamba highway was also badly hit. The entire Kinnaur district is cut off. However, there was no loss of life.

After two consecutive days of snow, most of the roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.

Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal were cut off, a government official told IANS.

While picturesque tourist town Manali recorded 30 cm of snowfall, it was 39.6 cm in Kalpa and 30 cm in Manali. Dharamsala had 53 mm of rainfall.

“There is no movement of traffic towards Kinnaur district on the national highway five beyond Tapri. Work is on to restore electricity in Kinnaur. The Pangi valley in Chamba district is also cut off from the rest of the state,” an official said.

State capital Shimla saw 44.5 cm of snowfall and a low of zero degree.

The higher reaches of Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur, Shimla, Sirmaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts have been experiencing snow.

Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over three feet of snowfall.

Officials said bad weather has affected the road network in the higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Kullu and Sirmaur districts and efforts were being made to reopen the roads.

There are chances of moderate snow in the state till Thursday, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told IANS.

The government has advised people not to venture to the high hills of Kullu, Shimla and Kinnaur districts owing to avalanche threat.

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Cloudy Delhi morning, 25 trains delayed

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cloudy morning delhi

New Delhi, Jan 23: It was a cold and cloudy morning in the national capital on Wednesday with the minimum temperature recorded at 8 degrees Celsius, the Met said. At least 25 Delhi-bound trains were delayed due to dense fog in several parts of northern India.

“The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day with chances of light rain or thundershowers,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

A fog cover delayed 25 trains heading here by two to six hours.

The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 per cent. Visibility in Safdarjung area at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 metres while in the Palam area the visibility at 7.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 metres.

The city recorded 27.8 mm rain in last 24 hours.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality here continued to be ‘moderate’ as on Tuesday, with the air quality index (AQI) being 99.

On Tuesday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 19.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season’s average, while the minimum was 12.5 around five notches above normal.

IANS

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Madhya Pradesh farmers hopeful of being ‘debt-free’ as loan waiver scheme kicks-off

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Earth Climate

Bhopal, Jan 22 : A week after the launch of the loan waiver scheme in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government claims 19.54 lakh farmers have filed their applications in the six days till Sunday.

While the opposition BJP has been calling the “Jai Kisan Rin Mukti Yojana” a trick to cheat the farmers, the question is how the farmers of the state perceive the entire exercise.

Kailash Chaudhary, a farmer from Mandsaur district’s Babulda village, said: “About two years ago, six farmers sacrificed their lives for their rights in Pipliya Mandi. This is the beginning of the victory of their fight.”

“Forms are being filled for waiver of loans up to Rs 2 lakh. We feel that the government is taking our demands seriously,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Mandsaur was the centre of farmers’ agitation in 2017 when six farmers were killed in police firing in June, 2017. After the incident, the farmers’ movement had taken over the whole state, which then spread to the whole nation.

Farmer’s leader Kedar Sirohi said: “Farmers in different parts of the state are excited about the loan waiver. They are filing applications in large numbers.”

“To ensure they don’t face any difficulty in filing applications, leaders and workers of farmer organisations are helping them. Government officials is also alert to help out the farmers. Colour coding of application forms has made it easier for farmers to fill out the applications,” he said.

According to official figures, out of the 19.54 lakh forms filed till Sunday, around 60 per cent were green forms, 35 per cent were white forms and 5 percent were pink forms. The farmers are hopeful of becoming debt-free through this exercise.

As per the scheme, the farmers of the Aadhaar seeded list will have to submit green applications and the farmers of non-Aadhar seeded list will have to submit white coloured applications. Farmers have to submit a pink application to file an objection or claim against information provided in the green or white list.

However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been accusing the Congress of misleading the farmers and terming the scheme a trick to cheat them.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Congress promise of a loan waiver won’t be fulfilled by a mere announcement.

“The Chief Minister (Kamal Nath) and Congress leaders are saying they have fulfilled their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. An announcement does not mean fulfillment of the promise,” he said, adding the Congress was misleading the farmers.

Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffer responded that 55 lakh farmers will get their loans waived of under the scheme, for which the due process needs to be followed.

“No matter what charges the BJP makes, the truth is that farmers are happy and they trust that the Congress is fulfilling the promise that they made to them,” he said.

“Those farmers who are in debt, neither are they now receiving notices from the banks nor is their property being seized. Under BJP rule, farmers had to go to jail and lose their property just for not paying their power bills,” Jaffer told IANS.

Calling the scheme pro-farmer, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS that political parties were creating doubts about the scheme.

“Farmers were reeling under debt which had increased manifold over the last one-and-a-half decade. Now they are getting waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh. The government is new and one should wait before making adverse comments,” he said.

Kamal Nath had signed the farm loan waiver file soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister. The filing of forms for the waiver started from January 15 and will continue till February 5.

According to the government, farmers will start getting the money in their loan accounts from February 22.

The Chief Minister had said that the scheme would benefit around 55 lakh farmers by waiving their loans worth Rs 50,000 crore.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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