Cabinet Secretary-led committee reviews Kerala flood situation

New Delhi, Aug 18
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Saturday reviewed the ongoing rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas of Kerala and sought proper coordination and distribution of the relief materials, as per a official statement.

Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha heads the committee, which met for the third time on Saturday in past three days, also issued direction for deployment of five more helicopters and decided to make the Naval airstrip in Kochi functional for commercial flights by August 20.

The meeting also reviewed various measures to restore power lines, petrol pumps, LPG, health facilities, and to provide necessary medicines, food and fodder with support from the Central ministries concerned.

"The Cabinet Secretary directed that there should be proper coordination and distribution of the relief materials which are being offered by various state governments and other agencies," it said.

The statement also said the committee "discussed in a video conference with the Chief Secretary of Kerala the current flood situation and deployment of rescue teams, motorboats, helicopters, life jackets, provision of food, water and medicines, and restoration of power, telecom and transport links wherever disrupted".

The government has already pressed into service 67 helicopters, 24 aircraft, 548 motorboats and thousands of rescue personnel from Navy, Army, Air Force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Coast Guard and other central armed police forces (CAPF) for rescue operation and distribution of relief materials.

The Health Ministry has made ready "emergency medicines and medical teams for deployment" as soon as flood waters recede.

"More than 6,900 life jackets, 3,000 life buoys, 167 inflatable tower lights, 2,100 raincoats, 1,300 gumboots and 153 chain saws have been provided as per the request of the state government... Additional motorboats have also been put on standby for deployment," it said.

The Chief Secretary of Kerala told the committee that there was "some respite" from the rainfall and water level in the dam reservoirs was stabilized, said the statement, adding that the rainfall is expected to recede further barring in one or two districts, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast.

It also said the Telecom Department has enabled intra-circle roaming which will enable subscribers of one service provider to access mobile towers of other service providers.

"All the operators have offered free data and SMS facility since yesterday (Friday). Mobile towers called 'Cellular on Wheels' are also being deployed to ensure that no block remains unconnected," it said.

As per the statement, various Central ministries have made available food, water and medicines which include 3,00,000 food packets, 6,00,000 tonnes of milk, 14,00,000 litres of drinking water and 150 potable water purification kits with capacity of 1,00,000 litre each.

Also, the Indian Railways informed that trains have been running to Thiruvananthapuram via Erode and Madurai, and it has offered to run a special food and medicine train from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam to distribute food and medicines to all the stations on the way.

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