Kerala seeks Rs 1,843 cr from Centre for Ockhi damage

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 13 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday his government has sought Rs 1,843 crore from the Centre to mitigate the damage caused by Cyclone Ockhi.

"This was one of the worst disasters that struck the state.

The Centre has been very supportive in all aspects," Vijayan told the media soon after chairing the weekly cabinet meeting.

"In today's meeting it was decided that we will seek Rs 1,843 crore from the Centre. Very soon a central team will be arriving in the state to assess the damage."

Vijayan, however, did not give a clear picture on the exact number of dead and missing.

"Even now bodies are being recovered.

There are two types of boats that the fishermen use -- one is the small boat and the other is the big one, which returns from fishing after several weeks.

"Those still missing went out on the small boats. Many of the dead have already been identified, while some bodies remain unidentified. DNA tests are ongoing.

"Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had called me and we have agreed to continue the search operations," Vijayan said.

On Wednesday again, the Coast Guard and Marine Enforcement agencies that were conducting searches off the coast of Kozhikode and Kochi recovered five bodies taking the toll to 52.

Vijayan has given a call to the people of the state to contribute generously to the special fund that the state government has constituted for the rehabilitation of the affected fisher folk.

The Kerala cabinet has decided to contribute one month's salary towards the fund.

"It has been decided to give Rs 20 lakh each as compensation in one tranche to the near and dear ones of those who have died; Rs five lakh each to those who have been permanently disabled and Rs 20,000 each to all those who had undergone treatment.

"Of the Rs 20 lakh each that the families of the dead gets -- Rs five lakh should be given to the parents and Rs five lakh will be earmarked for unmarried sisters of the dead fishermen," the Chief Minister said.

Counselling would be provided to all those affected. Besides, educational needs of the children of the affected families would also be taken care of, he added.

He also said the distribution of the aid would be under no circumstances delayed.

"It will be given as quickly as possible."

Cyclone Ockhi struck the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu on November 30.



Source: IANS