India: Flood appeals come from beyond Kerala


As India refuses $100 million governmental aid from the United Arab Emirates for the flood disaster in the south, victims on the ground are appealing to overseas charities for help.

And the appeals are not coming from Kerala alone. Among the worst hit areas are West Godavari and Konaseema districts in Andhra Pradesh on the eastern coast. The area is known as East Kerala because the geography is much the same.

Running through the two districts is the mighty Godavari river, at 910miles (1465 kms) the second-longest in the country after the Ganges. In fact it is known as Dakshina Ganga (the Ganges of the south).

It is the overflowing of the Godavari; another river, the Errakavula, and the Yera Kaluva (red canal) that has caused the damage.

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Nairu, estimates the damage at a staggering 600 crore rupees (£67 million, $86 million).

But the human cost is in shattered lives, mostly of tribal people, many of them Catholics, says Bishop Jaya Rao Polimera of Eluru diocese.

Homes and their contents - including food, furniture and cooking utensils - as well as fishing boats have been swept away, he says in an appeal to the British Catholic charity SPICMA (Special Projects in Christian Missionary Areas).

Crops and cattle stocks have been devastated. Many hectares of paddy and cotton are still inundated and a number of villages are still cut off by the floodwaters. Bridges and roads have been swept away.

The government is doing its best, he says. Families have been moved to safety and given basic food and medical care. But, for example, it will take weeks for electricity to be restored. There is a looming thereat of water-borne disease. And even poisonous snakes are a rising threat.

The priests in the area are hard at work, particularly looking after the children and the elderly. But people are looking to them for more.

There is an urgent need for cooking utensils, floor mats for sleeping, waterproof material for roof repairs and food such as dal, cooking oil and vegetables. SPICMA sent a cash donation to enable supplies to be bought locally.

"The greatest support we can extend to the flood victims is loving care," said Bishop Polimera. But immediate material help "brings immediate comfort and courage."

Read more about SPICMA here:

Tags: Kerala, Floods, Caritas India, SPICMA

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