Ockhi rehabilitation packages mostly remain on paper, cyclone-hit to hold fast today

Representational image.

Thiruvananthapuram: The members of Ockhi Rehabilitation Action Council will observe fast in front of the Kerala Secretariat on Tuesday to protest against the state government's apathy to provide succour to people affected by the tropical cyclone that wreaked havoc on the coast in 2017. The Council has demanded that Ockhi funds should be subjected to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. 

The state government claims that the rehabilitation and compensation packages have been implemented effectively. However, the fisherfolk, who were majorly hit by the tropical cyclone, allege that the rehabilitation schemes have reached only the halfway mark though crores of rupees were allotted by the central governmemt and from the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF). The state got Rs 111.7 crore from the Centre, while Rs 200 crore was released to the CMDRF.

Enquiries revealed that the rehabilitation packages have remained on paper with the state government not getting the nod for a Rs 7,340 crore package presented before the Centre. Out of this amount the proposal for providing  assistance to the next of the kin of the dead was only for Rs 32.15 crore. 

The state government had demanded Rs 3,002.71 crore for construction of houses for fisherfolk in the coastal areas. When the Centre neglected the proposal, the state government announced a separate package of Rs 2,000 crore but it is yet to utilised fully. Two research organisations are vetting the rehabilitation and compensation plans drawn up to execute the package.

Meanwhile, out of the Rs 111.32 crore sanctioned from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), Rs 46.11 crore was utilised for meeting the losses suffered by Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) due to the cyclone.

As per  the state government figures, Rs 113 crore was spent for the Ockhi-affected people.

According to government's own data, the Ockhi cyclone which left a trail of destruction on the night of November 29, 2017, claimed 52 lives. As many as 91 persons went missing.

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