Rahul Gandhi demands early-warning systems for disaster-prone areas, writes to PM

Rahul writes to PM, seeks early warning systems for flood-hit regions
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

Wayanad: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to protect both the life and livelihood of the people in his Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad, ravaged by floods and landslides.

In his letter, the Wayanad MP suggested that many lives can be saved if early warning systems are installed to alert people living in vulnerable areas in the ecologically sensitive hill district.

Gandhi, who concluded his two-day visit to his flood-hit constituency on Monday, explained to the Prime Minister the issues being faced by people and ecology in Wayanad and suggested measures for his consideration.

Rahul writes to PM, seeks early warning systems for flood-hit regions

"Developing a long term strategy and an action plan supported through a special package of assistance to protect both the life and livelihood of people and the environment in Wayanad to be taken up on priority," Gandhi wrote.

"Many lives can be saved if early warning systems are installed to alert populations in vulnerable areas and specially designed landslide/flood shelters with communication facilities are provided in such places," he said.

He said the destruction of forests and the depletion of inflow into the streams and rivers endanger farms and populations in three states- Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

"Mining and quarrying continue in the Western Ghats. The depletion of the forests is rapidly increasing conflicts between animals and people living within and in the periphery of the forest," he said.

Rahul writes to PM, seeks early warning systems for flood-hit regions

Gandhi said Wayanad has some of the most fragile parts of the Western Ghats and is home to 10 per cent of the biodiversity of the country.

"I would like to highlight the twin crisis one that affects the life and livelihood of people in Wayanad and the second, the critical status of the ecology in an area that is known as a global hotspot for biodiversity with the potential to contribute to carbon sequestration benefiting the country as a whole."

Highlighting the crisis in the agricultural sector in Wayanad, Gandhi said a large number of farmers have committed suicide in the last two decades due to a crisis in the farm sector.

He said agriculture and animal husbandry are the mainstays of the people in Wayanad.

However, paddy cultivation that also sustained wetlands and has the capacity to hold excess rainwater and mitigate flood damage has been steadily declining since the 1970s, he added.

Gandhi had tweeted on Friday that he spoke to Modi on the flood situation in Kerala and sought assistance for those affected in the State, including in his constituency Wayanad.

Rahul writes to RBI Guv, seeks relief for flood-hit Kerala farmers

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has written to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, urging that the moratorium on repayment of crop loans be extended to December 31 for farmers in Kerala in the wake of floods in the state.

The death toll in the Kerala floods is 95, as per government figures, and over 1.89 lakh people displaced by the deluge since August 8 have taken refuge in 1,118 camps, some of which were visited by Gandhi, the Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad, on Monday.

In a letter to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, Gandhi said Kerala has witnessed the worst floods in over a century and the devastating impact of the deluge is further compounded by the inability of farmers to repay agriculture loans on account of widespread crop loss, and extensive damage to other productive assets.

External factors such as the sharp fall in global commodity price of cash crops has also adversely affected the ability of farmers to bounce back, he said.

"Kerala has witnessed a tragic spate of farmer suicides in the aftermath of banks initiating recovery proceedings against helpless farmers under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act)," the Congress leader claimed.

"Despite the demand from the state government and opposition parties to extend the moratorium on repayment of loans to December 31, 2019; the state level banker's committee has refused to consider the demand.

"I request the RBI to take measures to extend the moratorium on repayment to December 31, 2019," he said in his letter to Das.

The Congress leader on Monday had visited flood-affected areas in his Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala, including worst-hit Puthumala, and assured all help to those hit by the calamity to rebuild their lives.

As per the official data, 1,057 houses have been completely damaged and 11,159 partially destroyed in the deluge.

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