The Kerala government said a probe would be conducted to ascertain whether a private check dam atop a hill was the cause of the massive landslide that struck Kattipara in Kozhikode district leaving 13 people dead.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the state assembly that a panel had been constituted and it would soon submit a report on whether the collapse of the check dam had caused the destruction in the region.
He was replying to a notice for an adjournment motion by the Congress-led UDF opposition on the monsoon calamity and the allegation that the overflowing of the check dam and its impact had led to the devastation at Karinchola in Kattipara.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the Kattipara incident was a “man-made-disaster” and the damage of the check dam, with a storage capacity of four lakh litres of water, had resulted in the “mammoth devastation” in the hilly region.
He also sought an explanation from the state government over the sanction given to set up the check dam in such a landslide-prone area.
Responding to the Opposition, the chief minister said, “A panel has been set up to probe the check dam issue.
“The committee comprises panchayat secretary, a geologist and officials of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM).”
Both Vijayan and Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan rejected the Opposition charge that there was a delay in taking up relief operations at Kattippara landslide site.
Chandrasekharan said the state government would consider the suggestion of some of the MLAs to purchase a helicopter to engage in relief operations during the time of emergencies.
Terming the landslide that struck Kattipara as the “worst” in the recent history of the state, he said monsoon rains that lashed especially between June 11 to 15, had caused varying degree of damage across Kerala.
So far, 56 persons have died in monsoon-related incidents and four people are still missing, the minister noted.
A total of 235 houses had been destroyed completely and 5,022 houses partially.
“The total crop loss in the state was estimated to the tune of Rs 71.39 crores. Value of the property including houses destroyed was estimated at Rs 8.48 crores,” the revenue minister said.
The government would consider increasing the relief amount to the affected persons, he added.
Raising the issue in the House, Parakkal Abdullah (IUML) demanded a special package for the northern Kozhikode district, which bore the brunt of the monsoon fury.
He also demanded setting up of a unit of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Kozhikode considering the vulnerability of the region to such natural calamities.
Later, the Opposition staged a walkout after Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan denied leave for the motion.