The Kerala flood disaster has claimed 483 lives and the estimated value of destruction "is more than the annual outlay of our state", Chief Minister Pinarayi Vjayan said on Thursday.
Initiating the debate at a special one-day session of the Assembly to discuss the disaster, Vijayan said 14 people still remained missing although flood waters have receded from almost all parts of the state.
He added that at the height of the floods, the worst to hit the state in a century, there were 14.50 lakh people in more than 3,000 relief camps.
"The latest figure is — there are 59,296 people in 305 relief camps. A total of 57,000 hectares of agriculture crops have been destroyed. An approximate estimate of the loss is more than the annual outlay of our state," he said.
The Chief Minister said the Meteorological Department gave out adequate warnings regarding the rains but the unprecedented showers led to a deluge.
The predicted rains from August 9 to 15 were 98.5 mm but the state got 352.2 mm, he said.
Hitting out at the government, senior Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, whose constituency Paravur in Ernakulam district was submerged, called it "a man-made tragedy".
"This is not a natural calamity, instead a man-made tragedy due to the faulty handling of the dam water management. Dams in the state were overflowing and the primary reason for this tragedy is the way the dam waters were indiscriminately let out," he said.
"Several dams were opened at midnight. The need of the hour is to fix responsibility and find out who all are responsible for this."
Thomas Chandy, a former Minister who represents Kuttanadu in Alappuzha, one of the worst hit districts, asked Vijayan to release the Rs 10,000 that the government had promised as interim relief to every family without delay.
K.M. Mani, a veteran opposition legislator, applauded the rescue efforts but said the tragedy could have been avoided had there been a proper dam management policy.
"Now that the tragedy is over, rehabilitation work has to take a systematic approach," he said.
Mani added that money pouring into building a new Kerala should be collected in a separate account.
"We all know what happened when Ockhi struck and still there has been no proper accounting of the money which is kept in the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. So we should have a separate account."
"We all know what happened when Ockhi struck and still there has been no proper accounting of the money which is kept in the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. So we should have a separate account," he said.
Meanwhile, B Vijay Srinivas,chairman-cum-managing director (joint charge), United India Insurance Company, said his company had 5,000 claims to the tune of Rs 3.5 billion.
The state government has estimated a loss of about Rs 195 billion. “It (insurance claims) is not even 10 per cent (of estimated loss). It is our responsibility to see that more people get insured,” said Srinivas.
While motor vehicle insurance is mandatory, more people now seem interested in health insurance, with the increase in healthcare expenditure, he said, adding that households and shops were very often not insured.
After the Chennai floods, insurance companies had got 50,000 claims worth Rs 48 billion.
“We are still waiting, claims are still coming, and we don’t know what the final figure will be. We are the biggest player there (Kerala), among all the insurance companies,” said Srinivas.
The meeting of public sector insurance companies was held in Chennai, in which it was decided to simplify procedures for the Kerala clients.
“It will to some extent have an impact on the company’s financial performance. How much can be moved to reinsurance arrangements has to be looked into. We are trying to do things fast, but there may not be any particular deadline,” he added.