Kerala floods
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Addressing a specially convened one-day session of the state assembly to discuss the unprecedented flood situation, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that 483 people have lost lives in the state since the onset of monsoon on May 28 and 14 were still missing.

Vijayan said that the government would explore the possibility of legal options to avail the funds offered to the state, including that from abroad.

His statement assumes significance in the wake of a row over the Centre's refusal to accept the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) reported offer of Rs 700 crore to the flood-hit state.

He said the state's economy had been badly hit and the loss could be much more than the state's annual plan outlay for the year which stood at Rs 37,247.99 crore. Besides Rs 600 crore sanctioned by the Centre, the state was hoping to get more financial assistance from the Union government considering the gravity of the situation.

"Offers of financial assistance for Kerala are pouring in from different quarters of the world. The government is also moving towards legal steps to avail these funds," Vijayan said.

"The Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund has received Rs 730 crore till yesterday," he said, adding that the government had also been offered land and jewels towards the relief fund.

On the discussions held with World Bank officials as part of fund mobilization for rebuilding the state, Vijayan said the government policy was to accept funds from any quarters if it was in tune with the state's interests.

"The state had received rains three times more than what was predicted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) during the period and the IMD had forecast an estimated 98.5mm rainfall in the state between August 9 and 15. But, the actual rainfall received was 352.2 mm, he added. Terming the calamity as the worst in the century that had virtually battered all sections of the economy, the Left leader said 57,000 hectares of agricultural land was flooded.

Meanwhile, Opposition member V D Satheesan (Congress) maintained the charge that the floods were due to the simultaneous release of water from various dams.

CPI(M) veteran and former chief minister V S Achuthanandan batted for the implementation of the Madhav Gadgil committee report on the preservation of ecologically fragile Western Ghats to avoid such calamities in future.

(with inputs from PTI)