India : a million people displaced in camps due to floods

More than one million people are now sheltering in camps set up for displaced people in Kerala, announced on Tuesday that the authorities of this southern State of India hit by a monsoon particularly violent resulting in more than 410 deaths. The gradual lowering of the water level after the flood, made possible by the weakening of the rainfall in recent days, highlights the scale of destruction in this lush region a popular place for tourists in the dry season. “The number of people in relief camps is now of 1.028.000” spread between more than 3,000 places of welcome (ieds), told AFP Subhash T. V., spokesperson of the communist government local.

The rescuers found Monday, six more bodies, bringing the balance sheet to more than 410 people dead since the beginning in the month of June of the monsoon, one of the most violent in over a century. In the area of Pandanad, in one of the most affected districts of the region, the inhabitants quémandaient from vehicles passing by. The drinking water and the dried clothes sorely missing.

In the vicinity of a flooded road, the military Jingy Joseph was sitting barefoot with her four year old daughter, Angelina, relieved to be finally reunited with it. This commander was stationed at the other end of the country when the waters invaded the house of his parents, where was her daughter. “I lost all contact with them for four days and I had to launch an appeal on Facebook for information,” she told AFP. His video of distress became viral on the internet indian. After a trip by train, plane and several hours by car, Jingy was finally reunited with his loved ones and took them to a safe place. “It was the hours the most agonizing of my life. I wanted good but I burst into tears when they told me that my daughter was crying asking for milk and water,” she said.

Through Kerala, the drop of provisions and medicines to the disaster areas is ongoing with the help of helicopters and even drones. The rains have destroyed or damaged over 10,000 km of roads, according to local authorities. Precipitation would also have caused the destruction of 50,000 homes, said Shashi Tharoor, an mp from Kerala and a former top official of the united nations.

Human responsibility ?

For many environmental experts, this disaster was predictable in this area the ecosystem is particularly rich and fragile. According to them, the extension of the human presence (urbanization, mining, industries…) has led to the disappearance of lakes and wetlands, capable of absorbing the excess water from the monsoon. “Changing the organisation of land use is difficult in any country because of the rights of private property and large sums of money in the game,” analyzed for AFP Muralee Thummarukudy, head of disaster risk reduction in the united Nations.

For the ecologist Madhav Gadgil, had suggested in 2011 a ban on the mining and industrial activities in Kerala, the action of the man has played a key role in this disaster. “Unfortunately, our state governments are in collusion with private interests who do not want the environmental laws to be applied”, he estimated.

Reviews, qualified by the department of environment and climate change in Kerala: “we have started an ecological restoration of the wetlands and have also banned the plastic”, indicated to AFP a person in charge who has not desired to be named for professional reasons. “We are doing our best. It is the fury of the nature, you can’t blame anyone,” said the same source. The cost of floods is estimated at three billion dollars by the local authorities, an amount expected to increase as the recession will update the scale of devastation. Faced with this situation, the indian government has declared a “state of natural disaster”.

The fate of Kerala has aroused the emotion both in India and internationally. Hundreds of millions of euros of donations have been pledged to finance its reconstruction.

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