(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) By Friday afternoon, the flood-hit south Indian state of Kerala had already lost 111 lives. There are 147,286 affected people in 891 relief camps across the state. Thousands of homes were fully damaged. But, fortunately, flood water is receding in the worst-affected districts of Wayanad, Malappuram and Kozhikode.
As the focus shifts to rehabilitation in the state that is still recovering from 2018 floods, Kozhikode South legislator and former minister M.K. Muneer said it would take two to three years of 'united effort' to rebuild Kerala.
"Rehabilitation is a huge task. In the next two to three years, our sole concentration should be to rebuild the state. This is no time to play politics. Views of all party leaders, experts and scientists should be sought. Government's 'Rebuild Kerala' project should seek the opinion of people from each district," he said.
"We have the best brains in Kerala. The non-resident community should be made part of the process. Crisis management cells need to have local members with the know-how of the area. We should make optimum use of advanced technology. There should be local seminars and discussions on climate change. Water scarcity is the next issue the state will face," Muneer told Khaleej Times in an exclusive chat, during a short UAE visit for the KMCC's relief collection drive held in Abu Dhabi.
Have faith in NRIs
Muneer noted that the relief collection drive from non-resident Indians (NRIs) had dropped, and said the state government should trust community associations.
"There are many NRI associations that worked tirelessly last year but are not keen now. They should be allowed to not just collect but distribute relief materials in Kerala. There should be ease of paperwork in sending relief materials to Kerala."
Muneer, a former minister of public works department, panchayat and social welfare, underlined that the district administrations has done better job this time. "Dams were managed efficiently. You could see it in the flow of water. But the shutters of the dams should be repaired and maintained. We must listen to experts."
Build flood-resilient homes
Muneer also stressed on the need to build disaster-resilient homes.
"There should be proper studies and planning. Designing new roads, building constructions, and allocation of plots should be discussed with experts. For now, temporary homes should be seen as an option that could be replaced by permanent ones."
On mismanagement of natural resources, he said that if quarrying continues, more landslides can be expected. And this should be at least avoided in 'ecologically sensitive areas'.
"We need to learn the lessons from such crisis or face severe consequences. Lots of lives were lost in the landslides," he said.