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After 2018 Floods, Kerala Residents Want Climate Change To Drive Poll Narrative

After 2018 Floods, Kerala Residents Want Climate Change To Drive Poll Narrative
A total of 483 people died in the August 2018 floods in Kerala. (File)

With memories of last year's devastating floods still fresh in the minds of people of Kerala, they want the issue of climate change to be a dominant theme of the electoral discourse in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls beginning April 11.

A total of 483 people died in the August 2018 floods, which were the state's worst in a century.

According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the state's total population was directly affected by the deluge and related incidents.

The residents now want political parties to take up climate change as one of the main issues in the upcoming general election.

"I am 100 per cent certain about the need for climate change to be one of the main discussion points in the impending elections," said Arun K Nair, a senior management executive with a leading hospital group in Kochi.

"As a Keralite who has enjoyed the most optimum climatic conditions for over four decades, the plight of flood victims in other parts of the country was more like a tall tale for me, but only until I witnessed the floods in Kerala last year," he said.

Mr Arun's relatives, living in nearby Aluva, were among those hit hard by the floods.

According to a UN report released last year, which assessed the damage caused by the floods in Kerala, the state would need about Rs 31,000 crore for recovery and reconstruction.

Thiruvananthapuram-based writer KS Manu said the floods were a time when people realised the incapacity of politicians as a majority of the rehabilitation work was undertaken by young volunteers.

He said the deluge was a man-made disaster which was allegedly caused by "an eccentric political decision when more than 22 dams were opened one by one."

The floods not just led to loss of lives, but also loss of property and means of livelihood, he added.

Mr Manu alleged that the state government had made a "conscious effort" to divert people's ire by creating new political issues like the entry of women of menstrual age into Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.

"Justice will be denied to people unless the general political discourse is changed. It should be based on green politics and modern concepts of a welfare society," he said.

Mr Manu also questioned the sincerity of politicians in handling such issues.

"Whether it is Left or Right, a natural disaster means funds, and funds mean bribes and misappropriation," he said.

Referring to the failed rehabilitation of victims of 2004 tsunami, which ravaged the south west Kerala coast, Mr Manu asserted that politicians and politics will not change anytime soon.

Citing a report released by the IPCC last year, noted climate expert Chandra Bhushan said a 2 degrees Celsius warmer world will have devastating effects on communities, economies and ecosystems.

Mr Bhushan, who is also the deputy director general of New Delhi-based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment, urged the politicians to listen to the people and take steps to minimise the impact of climate change.

In a speech in September last year, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres had referred to the devastating Kerala floods to highlight the urgency of the climate crisis, which, he said, was nearing the point of no return.

The UN chief had also emphasised on the need to step up efforts to reverse the course of climate change.

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Why Kerala Needs Your Support

Kerala has been hit by the worst floods in a 100 years. The Kerala Government estimates Rs 21,000 crore will be needed to rebuild the state. The funds are required to rebuild hundreds of flooded villages, thousands of damaged and destroyed homes and 10,000 kilometres of ravaged roads.
This Onam as Kerala struggles to rebuild after the most devastating floods in a century, NDTV has organised a special telethon to raise funds for Kerala. We have specific goals - to enable the rebuilding of villages in the worst-affected districts and provide immediate assistance in terms of rehabilitation and food kits to people in the worst affected areas . All donations will go directly to our partner NGO Plan India.
Our focus will be coverage that makes a difference, stories with a heart, standing by people and making their experience a shared one to effect change.   
NDTV chose to report on this massive crisis with unwavering focus and commitment; having done that, now we look, as NDTV always does, to go beyond the news and make a difference to people's lives.


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