The High Court of Kerala put forth certain suggestions to the State Government for consideration while carrying out relief and rehabilitation operations in the flood affected regions.

The suggestions came from a bench of Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankran Nambiar while considering a PIL projecting the grievance that relief measures were not adequately reaching the needy. Responding to the PIL, the Advocate General and the Assistant Solicitor General, appearing for the State and Central Governments respectively, submitted that both Centre and State were acting in unison in rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations.

The suggestions are :-

“(a) Publicity:

State Government should give adequate publicity to the steps adopted by it in connection with relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The need of the hour, as far as the victims of the natural disaster are concerned, is an assurance from the State Government that enough is being done to ameliorate their condition. This can be achieved only through periodic announcements of the steps taken and to be taken by the administration. The exercise will also help citizens point out those areas, if any, that are not being sufficiently addressed by the State Government.

(b) Zoning:

The State Government could consider mapping the areas within each of the districts in the State, based on the extent of inundation suffered during the floods. There could be a classification of zones, based on the extent of inundation, graded on a scale from say, 1 to 10, with 1 representing areas of minimum inundation and 10 representing areas of complete inundation. Such zoning would assist the State Government in a proper disbursement of compensation amounts,based on its policy for such disbursement, by evolving a formula for payment that takes into account the extent of inundation. The zoning would also assist citizens in establishing their claims before insurance authorities, in the event of staking a claim for any sum assured. They would not then require to establish the extent of loss/damage through independent survey reports or other documentary proof. The Zoning map would also aid the State Government in taking adequate steps to prevent such calamitous occurrences in future.

(c) Environment:

The State Government has to evolve a clear plan to deal with environmental issues that could arise in the course of relief and rehabilitation measures. Such issues would include waste disposal at the relief camps, waste disposal and sludge removal from roads and canals, cleaning operations involving removal of debris etc. Such plans have to be then implemented, simultaneous with the relief and rehabilitation measures “

The petitioner sought for time to amend the writ petition to highlight specific instances of lapses. The Court adjourned the matter to August 29, to review further progress of rescue and rehabilitation operations.