800,000 displaced in flooding in southern Indian state

Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from a relief camp in Kayamkulam, said the huge number of people gathered in the shelters increased the risk of disease spreading.

As the rain abated on Sunday morning, 60-year-old T P Johnny visited his home in Cheranelloor - a suburb of Kochi situated on the banks of the Periyar river - to see when he and his family could return.

Lakes and wetlands that soak up floods have disappeared, and new concrete buildings concentrate excess water in certain areas and make it harder to drain away.

Meanwhile, the flood situation in Kuttanad remains grave.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sounded very optimistic when he says that state will set an example in rebuilding and rehabilitation in the state.

The total death toll, as a result of the floods, has reached 164. However, the rebuilding is an issue where people in the state are little apprehensive about due to the work being labour intensive.

The beaches and backwaters of Kerala are top destinations for domestic and worldwide tourists, but far fewer visit during the monsoon season.

In a press release on Sunday, India's Meteorological Department said that while more rain is in the forecast, it is expected to decrease gradually throughout the week.

K Santosh, Director at IMD's Thiruvananthapuram centre, said all alerts had been withdrawn and the state experienced only light to moderate rainfall on Monday.

However, Modi said the next of kin for all of the people killed would get ex-gratia payments of 200,000 rupees (US$2,866) from the Prime Minister's National Relief Funds, while there would be 50,000 rupees ($716) for those seriously injured.

Indian health authorities said they were focusing on preventing the spread of disease.

According to the police, they are residents who have refused to be moved to safer places even close to a week after the grievous second phase of the tragedy, or are content with food and drinking water supplies. As flooding continues to wreak havoc for two consecutive weeks, call for prayers have transformed into calls for help, action, and support.

The worldwide airport in the city of Kochi, one of India's busiest airports, will remain closed until August 26, airport officials said in a statement.

As flight operations at Cochin International Airport remain suspended, small-sized passenger aircraft began services from the naval base in Kochi. Authorities said on Monday that they would proceed to open other airbases in the region to commercial traffic, to help meet the transportation needs of the area.

The floods have caused an estimated $3 billion in damage but the bill is likely to rise as the scale of devastation becomes clearer.

"This shows the sorry state of affairs in the Congress party and I think, it is anti-people".

  • Leroy Wright