Amidst accountability row, LDF govt floats World Bank loan proposal
27 August 2018
As the calls for fixing responsibility for the devastating floods that left most of Kerala submerged for almost two weeks, claimed over 400 lives and rendered lakhs of people homeless become louder, the Pinarai Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government in the state is now reported to have now come out with a proposal to raise funds from the World Bank.
During a media interview, the Kerala chief minister also made a fervent appeal to Keralites across the world to contribute a month’s earnings to help the state in its rehabilitation efforts.
The announcement follows another controversial claim the ruler of the United Arab Emirates had offered $700 million for the flood-ravaged state and that the centre’s regulations governing foreign funds are standing in the way of accepting such huge foreign aid.
After torrential rains and the simultaneous release of water from nearly 80 dams across the state that inundated most of ‘God’s own country’, generous aid and relief have been pouring from across the country to help people reclaim their lives and property.
There has even been an announcement by the centre that it would take up rebuilding and repair of roads and bridges damaged in the flood fury.
However, the Kerala chief minister now says he is looking to raise a World Bank loan to rebuild public infrastructure that has been ravaged by the worst floods in over a century.
Vijayan did not disclose the amount of money the state plans to raise from the multilateral development bank, but reports quoting a state government official who is privy to the discussions said the government is preparing a concept note to raise Rs3,000 crore.
Not just Keralites, people and organisations from across the country and outside have spared no effort to reach out to the distressed people in the state.
While the NGOs and the centre and other state governments pitch in to help, efforts to fix accountability on the LDF government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan continue to be drowned by criticism by the so-called intelligentsia and the media on a non-existent aid offer.
The state did not care to take advance measures to avoid a catastrophe and even failed to inform the public sufficiently early to prevent, minimise and manage a disaster that was waiting to happen.
One cannot in any way compare the situation in Kerala with disasters in Odisha in the past two decades. In October 1999, Super Cyclone Pradip battered coastal districts of Odisha with wind speeds of up to 250 kmph for 36 hours accompanied by torrential rains and 7-10 metre high tidal waves. The cyclone claimed 10,000 (unofficially 50,000) lives. Nearly 1.3 million people were affected, 3.15 lakh cattle perished. The Union government sent a grant of Rs300 crore.
But, in October 2013, when intense tropical storm ‘Phalin’ struck Odisha with violent wind speeds and incessant rains, the state machinery was prepared to face the challenge.
It evacuated 6 lakh people from coastal areas to safe shelters stocked with 1 million food packages. Only 44 lives were lost. More than two lakh houses were flooded and over 1,000 villages were inundated.
Sadly, for Kerala, the LDF government has not learnt from the 2014 floods caused by an intense pre-monsoon cyclonic activity between 1 April and 8 May that claimed 123 lives and the Okhi cylone in the southern tip that claimed several hundred, mostly fisherfolk.