Lets Rebuild Kerala
God’s own country beckons God’s own people!
It’s a beautiful country dotted with greenery and water as far as the eye can see. The distinction between urban and rural
areas is hardly recognizable. You can feel in the air that the place is thriving and people are very close to nature. Around
75% houses are pucca and yet religious tolerance is exemplary.
But what is remarkable is that the spirit of the Malayalis is amazing. And so is their dedication and discipline. The #KeralaFloods have not spared the rich or the poor. Although, you rarely get to see beggars in Kerala. The flourishing duck farms, prawn farms, fish farms, banana plantations were all razed and swamped with flood waters in the worst flood the state has seen since 1924.
We decided to travel to Kuttanad Taluk, Alleppey and Chendamangalam, North Parvur, Ernakulam; one of the worst hit areas. Fortunately for us we found a contact in a deep Ramankary hamlet in Kuttanad, Mrs. Julie, who had worked with #AkalAcademy #BaruSahib as a Teacher. The stench hits you as you get down at Ramankary, Alleppey district, one of the worst hit areas. Carcasses and stagnant flood waters form a pungent cocktail that overpowers you. Almost every house (total 3000 houses) here has seen an average level of 5 feet of water. The SVO (Village Officer) Mr. Venugopalan in an aching voice showed us around the affected areas. His own quarters were devastated. The backwaters seem to be flowing everywhere without any bank or borders. A sizeable length of the road is submerged and invisible.
We contacted the Ernakulam MLA Mr. VD Satheeshan, an advocate himself. He graciously accepted our offer of coming to his area at 6.30 am in the morning. He not only sent his person to the hotel at 5.15 am to escort us but was already working in his office for the early meetings. The Chendamangalam area (total 10,000 houses) is a basin surrounded by the Periyar river from all four sides. This area saw the maximum damage of lives and property. Almost all of the houses have their boundary walls caved in. The flood waters touched 7 feet height in most houses. One of the relief camps got flooded here at night and claimed six lives. The situation is extremely bad here.
We met Mr. S Suhas, IAS who is the District Collector of Alleppey; a fine young man who is highly respected for his stellar performance in every posting that he has been to. Sitting there, we came across an assuming gentleman who turned out to the Finance Minister of Kerala, Mr. Thomas Isaac, who is also an elected MLA from Alleppey. The President of the local Guru Singh Sabha Kochi, Mr Jasbir Singh Chawla and a young volunteer businessman Bhupinder Singh generously volunteered their time for us. SGPC, Khalsa Aid, United Sikhs and a few other Sikh organisations have already been distributing langar and rations at the affected sites.
What warms your heart and motivates you is that top to bottom, the Government mechanism in Kerala is run and handled by people who are dedicated and honest to their jobs. We learnt about numerous stories as to how fishermen were inspired by a pastor not to charge anything for rescuing people and how they rescued the maximum population on their own. Thousands of college students joined rescue operations after classes were suspended and how the Teachers and Professors themselves led them by example. Exactly a week after people had left their homes, that they have started arriving back home to restore their lives. Mr Isaac informed us that 75,000 volunteers have enlisted themselves for the cleaning operations in the flood hit areas. This is quite amazing!
The problems now: Wells are contaminated, Electricity restoration is risky, snakes menace, stench, bedding mattresses are soggy, mosquitoes menace, homes have been damaged, ration stocks have been damaged, plumbing issues and outbreak of viral and diarrheal diseases.
The need of the hour: Electricians, Masons, Carpenters, Plumbers, Supervisors, Engineers, Doctors, nurses and other skilled workers are required at the sites. Clean drinking water for the next one month and also rations for the next month is an immediate requirement. Fumigation is also required.
The Kalgidhar Society #BaruSahib has already surveyed the area and the first rebuilding operations are starting with a fleet of electricians, engineers, masons and plumbers leaving for #Kerala on 29 August 2018. Kerala has been an example of how people helped each other without any distinction of faith, caste or color. The Sikh Gurus always stood for universal brotherhood and Oneness and this has been ably demonstrated in this situation.
What we now require to do is basically to help #ReBuildKerala!
Kerala does not need your Sympathy. They need Support and Empathy!