Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government, under fire for failing to execute relief measures following Cyclone Ockhi, has said that only 50 people were killed and over 100 were missing.
“As many as 104 people are missing since the cyclone struck. Fifty people lost their lives, with Thiruvananthapuram accounting for 49 and one person from Kasaragod district. In Kannur, one person died after a high-mast pole fell on him,” clarified fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma on Wednesday.
The cyclone had battered the southern districts of Kerala on November 30-December 1, leaving a trail of destruction and claiming many lives.
There was a controversy of the death toll and number of missing people with the Latin Catholic Church claiming that the actual number was much higher than the official records. The government on Wednesday rejected this charge with the minister saying there was no ambiguity regarding the number of people missing in Cyclone Ockhi.
The education of children of those who lost their lives and those who are missing will be taken up by the government. Further studies including boarding fees of 158 students who are now in primary classes will be borne by the government.
The government has already paid the fee of one of three children who are doing higher studies.
A special plan will be drawn up to protect the coastal areas, the minister said, adding that the government is planning to gradually shift those living within 50 meters of the shore.
No one stopped by car: CM
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the assembly on Wednesday that no one stopped his vehicle when he visited Vizhinjam, one of the worst-affected regions.
He added that his Poonthura visit was not scrapped due to public anger in the area. There was no plan to visit Poonthura that day, he said.
The chief minister and revenue minister E Chandrasekharan had visited Vizhinjam on December 3. The chief minister had to leave his car and get into another vehicle to leave the place after public erupted in anger. Though it was announced that the chief minster will visit Poonthura and even police personnel were also deployed in large numbers. But the chief minister never visited Poonthura.
However, in a written reply in the Assembly, he denied both these incidents.