Kerala Rebuilding Daunting Challenges for Policy Makers and Implementers-Way Forward

 

During  2018  the  monsoon was  very severe in Kerala  and for nearly   three  months it was steady  down pour in terms of intensity, velocity and   destructive  fury. Out  of  14  districts in the  state, the worst  affected   are  Pathanamthitta,  Alleppy, Idukki,, Kottayam,Ernakulam, Wynad to mention a few in terms  of  loss of  humans and  live stock.

It is estimated that some 90,000 cattle heads are lost worth Rs 270 lakhs. Human lives  lost may be  any ones  guess  work  now  as the final  head  count is yet  to  confirm  the  death  toll.  Personal property worth Rs 3000 lakhs must have been consumed by the deluge. The  households items  include  TV, fridge,  washing machine,  beds, mattresses,  furniture  and  fixtures, computers,  dress, kitchen  electronic  items, crockery,  cutlery,  electric  motors, etc.

Standing crops  both  tree  and  others like  banana,  nut meg ,vegetable,  fruit  trees, etc may  be  lost  worth  Rs 300  lakhs  across  Kerala.

Houses, its compound walls  necessitating   rebuilding, painting, polishing, etc may cost Rs 2500 lakhs.

Food grains and such other items lost in go downs by traders may be around Rs 1600 lakhs.

Medicines stored, library books, both personal and   public may be lost to the tune of Rs 2400 lakhs.

Cement go downs, furniture go downs, cold storages, cars, plywood, etc lost in the flood waters may be Rs 3000 lakhs

Cars, two  wheelers ,  other   four  wheelers  and  bicycles  lost  may be    estimated at  Rs.31,00 lakhs.

Public buildings must have suffered an estimated loss of Rs 1000 lakhs. Roads, bridges and canals damaged may be to the tune of Rs 900,000 lakhs.

Boats and   country canoes lost may be around Rs 200 lakhs. The total loss to bus stands, airports, railway lines may be around Rs 9000 lakhs.  Drinking water facilities and its pumping stations must have suffered Rs 900 lakhs losses. The   total loss to the state power company   namely KSEB may be Rs 1500 lakhs.

School going kids lost books, uniforms may be worth Rs 150 lakhs.

Critical  documents like  Aadhaar,  ration cards,  RC books  of  vehicles,  passports,  education certificates, licences,  permits, sale  deeds, revenue  documents,  hospital records,  etc  may be  lost  for   good. Some are recoverable by the issuance e of duplicates while others are lost forever.

 

Thus  the   story  of  destructions  in terms  of  money  is  huge and even  poorly  quantifiable. But the  trauma  and  stress  suffered  by  millions in  Kerala and their  relatives  abroad  is unparalleled in the  recent world  history.

Way Forward

Kerala must work as a team to rebuild   its lost economy. Here the narrow considerations must give way to the common good. During the  deluge and its  rescue  operations one thing was  very much clear to any  independent  observer that the youth is the  promise  of  the  future. They  sank all   differences  of  religion,  political  affiliations and such other man  made  barriers.  There are   aberrations to the normal behaviour of the Kerala psyche  observed  as  well.

We need bold initiative to rebuild the state from its critical chaos.  Our  focus  must be  inclusive  efforts  with peoples  participation    to  evolve  sustainable  and  safe  future  for  the  posterity  and the  environment. We need professionals with vision and fortitude to dream for a new Kerala to emerge from this catastrophe. We  need  millions of  rupees  worth   resources and  dedicated  professionals  who  are known for  their impeccable integrity  to  lead  our  rebuilding  phase beyond sectarian  and  caste or  political   considerations  to bring in  momentum  and   velocity  to our  efforts in a  time bound  mission mode.

There  are  hundreds  of  men and  women  of Kerala  origin including our  diasporas  with track record  to  lead us in our  rebuilding  if  the  government  wants  them  to  step in  without  narrow  considerations.

Policy Suggestions:

  • Let us agree that  ministers   are  to  be spared   from  this  task  of  rebuilding  fully as  they are  to be  busy  with  governance only. They may  be invited for  formal  inaugurations  and to   chair  the  critical  meetings  with  major donors  etc as  a  part of protocol.
  • Our bureaucrats   are  too  good  in many  things  but not  for  a mission mode  like  massive  rebuilding  of  a  toughly  devastated  economy  within  five  Here comes sagacity, practical wisdom and prudence. Let our  IAS  /IPS  officers  do   the  day to day  administration  work  instead  of  diluting their  time  for  many things. Line ministries  would  carry  on  its  day  to day  government  job as they cannot  be over  burdened  with  so many tasks. They are not multitask experts either.
  • May be the government machinery   to be strictly active with vigilance, law and order, etc.
  • As the  Hon  High  Court of Kerala  has  opined   let  there  be  100 percent  transparency  in the  resource   deployment  with   meticulous  accounting so that   there  is hardly any  room for  leakages  both  inherent  or
  • Men and women of impeccable integrity to be associated with this rebuilding exercise. Besides, we  may  rope in professionals  and  experts  who  have  proven  their  metal  elsewhere  to  take up this  task on war
  • It is suggested  that Mr  MA Yusuf Ali  who  runs  successful  ventures in many  countries  to be  requested  to  lead  this  herculean mission for   five  years  with  unlimited  He may be designated   as CEO of Kerala Rebuilding Authority for a period of five years. He may be given free hand to select his team including Mr.E Sreedhran. It is not  a  team of  personal  conflicts  or  animosity  but  to  harness  our  scarce  resources  to be  used  optimally  with multiplier  effects  and spread effects.
  • It is suggested  that Rev Dr Abraham  Mulamootil  to be  nominated  as   the coordinating  secretary  of the  special  task  on account of  his  track  record  of  an institution  builder  with  openness and  vision  without    permitting   any extraneous   influence  in the  conduct of his   day to day
  • It is  better to  have  experts  in the  core  committee  like   Dr  MS Swaminathan to help  with  Agriculture  and  allied  activities,  Dr  Vallyathan   to  associate  with health  matters to make Kerala   a world  class   health  destination  for  health tourism,   Justice  K Narayana  Kurup  to  help  with  legal  matters, Mr   Vijaya Raghavan  to  help  with planning  and waste management, Mr George  Paul of Synthite  to  help  with  time bound  management  matters  and  regular monitoring , Mr  Kris Gopala Krishnan to  help  with matters  of  vertical  town  and  country  planning  and  small and medium  industries,  , Dr D  Babu Paul to  associate  with  specific  innovative  projects   for overcoming  land  resource  constraints ,Mr joy P Jacob  of  MOSC Kolenchery  to   help  with   hospital waste management matters,   Prof  Madhava  Gadgil  to  guide  us  about  the  fragile  ecology, etc to suggest  a few  names, who  do not  even  want any  money  from this  emergency  task funds   even for  travel  to  attend the meetings.
  • There is a need to set up an independent monitoring   and evaluation unit in each implementing unit for its ongoing   progress review. Every  quarter   there is need  for strict  review  of  the   physical an d financial  achievement of   targets along with  built in  mechanism to  correct    This  would  finally   be  reviewed  by the  core  group/ committee  for the  all  the participating units on  quarterly  basis  for  suggesting  course corrections.
  • Kerala professionals are there everywhere like UN, WB, ADB, to mention a few. We need  to invite  them  as  good will ambassadors  for  a few months or  years  as our  state guests  without  any  remuneration  but  with  minimum  courtesy  like    food ,accommodation, local travel, decent office  space  with     supportive  It is said   together we form the   gardens. Time and tide wait for none. Hence a stitch in time saves nine as the old adage goes. The future beckons for Kerala, shall we falter?

 

(Dr KM George; President of Sustainable Development Forum; Melmana, Kerala, Pin 686663; Melmana@gmail.com)