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Kerala cabinet fails to meet for the second week
By Ashraf Padanna September 13, 2018
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TRIVANDRUM: The cabinet of the flood-ravaged southern state of Kerala failed to meet for the second week on Wednesday in the absence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Vijayan is on a three-week trip to the US, where he reportedly underwent a surgery at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and is expected to return on Sept.24.

He had not handed over his charge to any of his colleagues while industries minister EP Jayarajan, the most inexperienced of all, is playing a coordinator’s role.

The Congress-led opposition alleges the governance has come to a standstill while the ministers put up a brave face and say everything was going on smoothly.

The cabinet used to meet unfailingly every week, mostly on Wednesday, and this was for the first time in its recent history that the practice getting stalled.

The opposition says the post-flood rehabilitation in the “headless” state has gone for a toss and the government could not even submit a memorandum for federal assistance.

Jayarajan said there was no constitutional or governance crisis in the state as the opposition makes out to be and the flood damage analysis was progressing.

“We have to get the reports from every department on the extent of devastation before compiling them,” he said.

“We hope to finalise the figures by this evening and send to the central government by tomorrow. The losses could surpass Rs 400 billion. We have so far received Rs 10b.”

According to official estimates, 339 people have died in the century’s worst floods last month and 14 are still missing.

There are 1,481 families living in 120 temporary shelters, mostly in Alappuzha district, where another 3,255 families live in their flooded homes and fed by state-run gruel centres.

The rain-related death toll since the onset of monsoon on May 29 is 491, including those washed away in floods. The state says floods had affected 5,5 million people.

“They cannot take any policy decisions in Vijayan’s absence. So procrastination has become the order of the day,” opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said.

“The paralysis of governance at a time when the state is going through the most trying times has turned out to be another tragedy.”

He said the victims had not received even the interim relief of Rs 10,000 announced on Aug.14, while Jayarajan said half a million people had received it.

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