Elections 2019: Ghost of Kerala floods haunts CPM government ahead of polls

The ghost of the floods that ravaged God’s Own Country last August has returned to haunt the Pinarayi government and the Left Front ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

In a major setback to the Pinarayi government, a court-appointed amicus curiae has said that the floods were not just an Act of God; it was also due to a blunder on the part of the state government.

The report said the government delayed the opening of the shutters of some of the major dams in Kerala and this led to the massive flooding. In short, the disaster was man-made; to be precise, government-made.

The report, which was submitted to the Kerala High Court on Wednesday, has recommended a probe by an expert team, headed by a former Supreme Court judge, to pinpoint who were responsible for the delay in taking a decision.

Amicus curiae and advocate Jacob P Alex was quite blunt when he said the government had failed in maintaining effective flood control zones and flood cushion at dams as per norms so as to accommodate the flood water.

The floods claimed 483 lives, besides causing widespread destruction.

Seven months later, the floods issue is back with a bang as a poll issue, triggering a landslide of criticism against the CPM-led government.

While the Opposition had made the tardiness of the government in providing relief to the flood affected as a major poll issue, the new report will surely hit the CPM’s prospects in the key districts that got badly affected.

According to the report, in many places like Chalakkudy, Paravoor, Ranni and Chengannur, people were clueless about the sudden rise of water and possible level of inundation.  “Thus it is seen that no proper follow-up action and effective precautionary steps were taken after issuing red alert. This is also a matter of enquiry.”

Apart from these places mentioned in the report, Pathanamthitta, Kochi, Aluva, Thrissur were badly hit. These are the places where the Left Front is fighting a pitched poll battle with a resurgent Congress and the BJP.

In Pathanamthitta, the CPM is trying hard to fight the setback triggered by the Sabarimala crisis which the BJP is encashing; moreover they are dealing with the problem created by Congress president Rahul Gandhi filing his nomination in Wayanad; now the CPM will have to defend itself against the flood report as well.

While Power Minister MM Mani, who played a crucial role in the decision to keep the dam shutters closed, refused to comment, the Kerala State Electricity Board, which manages the dams, did not have a convincing counter to the report.

For the Congress and the BJP, the flood report has come as a godsend and a booster to their vigorous poll campaigning. Both the parties have, understandably, latched on to the report, demanding the resignation of Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government. BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai and Kummanam Rajasekharan went a step further, saying a case of genocide should be registered against Pinarayi Vijayan.

KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said the chief minister has no moral right to continue in office. “A government, which must act as a protector of the people, became a killer, said the report. It is evident that there was criminal negligence on the part of the government when it came to dam management,” he said.

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