As heavy rains and landslides continued for several days in Kerala beginning from the second week of August, CPI(ML) comrades could organise some significant relief work in six districts, organising essential food items, water, clothes, blankets, mats, cooking utensils and many such relief supplies to several hundreds of families which were the worst-affected, whom neither the Government nor any NGO had been able to reach.
Initially, our comrades in Alappuzha, Ernakulam , Kannur and Thrissur involved themselves in relief work that were started by people on their own. While comrades in Alapuzha, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram played their roles as volunteers in the government efforts to bring relief supplies to large sections of affected people, those in Thrissur district organised dozens of youth to evacuate people from houses on river banks and low lying areas and succeeded in taking them to safe shelters.
In the meanwhile, comrades from Kanyakumari district committee (Tamil Nadu ) informed that they were despatching relief materials by train – including rice, pulses,water, vegetables, biscuits, clothes, blankets, medical supplies, soap, tooth-brushes – to be received by the Kerala comrades for distribution among affected people. The material was packed and delivered as two consignments, one each at Alappuzha and Thrissur respectively.
Comrades added the relief supplied and collected by them in Kerala itself to the material received at Alappuzha, and delivered itall to the government collection centre to ensure distribution of the supplies to the marooned places of Kuttanad and Chengannur where it was most needed.
Comrades in Alappuzha and Ernakulam also took essential supplies directly to people living in the most affected regions like Kuttanad (Alappuzha district),parts of Pathanamthitta district and in Paravoor(Ernakulam district).
Two places in Palakkad district where 110 and 25 households respectively had not received relief from the Government machinery, were chosen by our comrades to deliver relief materials. The former (named Sundaram Colony) was hardly 3 kilometres away from Palakkad district headquarters and largely inhabited by poor Muslim families, and people here were in dire need of essential supplies. Comrades from Palakkad and Thrissur distributednew clothesand blankets that had been donated by a few philanthropic people.
The other place was in Nelliyampathy hills which had been cut off from other places for several days due to large-scale destruction of the only road available. Government relief supplies were being transported either by head-loads or by airlifting in helicopters to over 3000 in the hills, but about 25 families who had their houses beside the overflowing stream (at Padagiri) had received only rice @10 kg/ house and no other essential supplies.
Because of the government policy of mandatory channelizing relief items only through government collection centres and also the risky nature of the recently re-opened road for single line traffic, the CPI(ML) comrades’ vehicle was stopped at the check-post for several hours. Finally, our comrades managed to bring three people representing these houses in a jeep and were able to hand over items of food, clothes and other materials. It is unfortunate that bureaucratic hurdles were created to deter a bonafide effort to take relief to people in distress and dire need.
Comrades in Kannur district could identify a few adivasi coloniesin the nearby Wynad district, where food and other essential commodities, mats to sleep, utensils to cook food, at least few plastic stools to sit to escape the dampness of the floor etc were among the priority items. Comrades could procure and deliver such items to a tribal colony comprising 22 houses at Anadikkappu colony Vaduvanchal . Our comrades could also raise pertinent questions about lacunae in the functioning of government relief machinery thanks to which hundreds of adivasi people in Wynad district, including 60 families living in Appapara colonies near Mananthavady, are yet to receive substantial support. Efforts in this direction are to be actively pursued in the coming few weeks so that some tangible outcome could be finally visible, thanks to the helpful attitude of conscientious officers.
Relief works carried out by comrades in Thrissur in co-ordination with comrades elsewhere were the most extensive. 80 families at Moothakunnam and 110 famies at Karuvannur(in Karuvannoor Panchayat) were approached at relief camps, 50 houses in Ayinikkad, 15 houses in Parappur, 25 houses in Edakolathur (all in Tholur Panchayat) 30, 33, and 35 houses respectively in Ponur, Edavalli and Vadakkekkad Panchayats and 30 houses in Adattu (Tholur panchayat) were approached directly by our comrades to distribute various relief materials and supplies. Also comrades could deliver clothes to over 70 houses in Manalur. Altogether, comrades in Thrissur district could help over 500 families with the most needed essential items.