After flood havoc, Kerala focuses on three ‘R’s

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala has traditionally led India on the three ‘R’s, namely reading, writing and arithmetic, becoming the first Indian state to be totally literate in the early 1990s.

Now, after massive floods wrecked homes, buildings and roads, ruining the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people along the way, the state will focus on a different set of three ‘R’s, namely relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

After a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that took stock of the latest situation, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “We have to essentially create a new Kerala. The aim is not to recreate what has been damaged in the disaster, but a new one”.

Vijayan said the state government was seeking the permission of the federal government for enhancing the borrowing limits, so that Kerala can make market borrowings to raise the resources required for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“Currently, the borrowing limit is 3 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product. We are seeking a raise of this limit to 4.5 per cent. That will enable us to borrow Rs105 billion (Dh5.5 billion) from the market”, Vijayan said. There is also a plan to introduce a cess of 10 per cent to raise funds for rehabilitation work.

Along with this, the state government will also seek special programs from the federal government, including special programs connected to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Vijayan said the state government would also seek special programmes to be implemented through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), particularly in the infrastructure, farming, irrigation and social sectors.

Vijayan also appealed to private money lending agencies not to put pressure on those in relief camps to pay up their dues now.

“The banks have announced a moratorium on interest payments for those affected by the floods, but some private money lending agencies are understood to be putting pressure on those in relief camps to pay their interest dues. They must not do it”, the chief minister said.

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