Minister for Revenue E. Chandrasekharan has emphasised the role of the youth, especially the student community, in rebuilding the State in the aftermath of the devastating floods.
He was speaking after inaugurating a three-day residential training programme for volunteers of National Service Scheme (NSS) units under the University of Kerala here on Thursday. The workshop has been organised as prelude to the clean-up drive that will be undertaken by the NSS in the Vamanapuram river in Thiruvananthapuram and the Kallada river in Kollam.
Attributing the recent floods to wanton exploitation of nature, Mr. Chandrasekharan lamented the “indifferent attitude” of the public towards nature conservation. “The emergence of neo-liberal policies has resulted in natural resources being viewed as mere commodities. The influence wielded by the affluent has scuttled the popular movements that were aimed at conserving environment,” he said. While the calamity had resulted in widespread damage, it brought together people of various cross-sections to become part of the relief efforts, he said.
Mr. Chandrasekharan added that the river management funds (RMF) were often utilised for works that did not essentially conserve rivers. “The funds were being used for constructing sidewalls, bridges and other structures, some of which obstructed the natural course of the waterbodies, thereby defeating the purpose of the allocation,” he said.
The NSS unit of the varsity had proposed a massive clean-up drive of the major rivers in Thiruvananthapuram Kollam Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha, including the Karamana, Vamanapuram, Mamam, Ithikkara, Kallada, Achencoil and Pampa, by deploying the volunteers of the 164 affiliating units.
The high-power committee on river management, chaired by the Revenue Minister, recently sanctioned the cleaning and rejuvenation of the Vamanapuram and Kallada rivers on a trial basis.
The training programme was being led by the Institute of Land and Disaster Management, (ILDM), functioning under the Revenue Department, which will supervise the project. A total amount of Rs. 6.92 lakh has been sanctioned for the project from the RMF of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.
C. Ganesh, professor in charge of the office of the Vice Chancellor, presided over the function. Syndicate members M. Harikrishnan, J.S. Shiju Khan, ILDM director P.G. Thomas and NSS programme coordinator A. Shaji also spoke on the occasion.
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