The inmates of Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram are toiling hard to feed those staying in relief camps across Kerala, where the worst flood of the century has claimed over 300 lives since August 8 and displaced over 7 lakh people.
Ever since the torrential rains started lashing the state causing massive destruction across its length and breadth, the prisoners began preparing large number of chapathis and vegetable curry for relief camp inmates and those stranded in marooned houses.
The Central Prison at Poojappura has been selling a number of food items including chapathi, vegetable and chicken curries under the brand name ‘freedom’ on a commercial basis for some years now.
The low-cost dishes sold through a number of counters in the capital city have many takers.
According to jail authorities, an average of 40,000-50,000 chapathis were prepared for flood victims during the peak days last week.
Though the work load is too high, around 50 convict prisoners of the chapathi unit were working round the clock in different shifts to meet the demand, they said.
The neatly-packed chapathi and curry were handed over to the district authorities to be distributed to the relief camps.
“Our food packets were used mainly for airdropping to the people stranded on roof tops and isolated buildings,” a senior prison official told PTI.
“Besides chapathi and curry, we have sent jam and packaged water also,” he said adding that as the rescue mission is almost over the demand for chapathi packets is reducing now.
The Thiruvananthapuram Central Prison had sent 50,000 ‘jail-made’ chapatis to Tamil Nadu when Chennai was flooded in torrential rains in 2015.
Thousands of people in flood-hit areas in Kerala are battling all odds to survive as the death toll has touched over 300 in the past 10 days in the second spell of monsoon fury since August 8.
In some relief, Kochi Naval airport has started operating commercial flights. The first commercial flight landed at INS Garuda Kochi Naval Air Station on Monday after the closure of the Kochi International airport till August 26 following flooding of the runway and airport areas in the heavy rains.
On Sunday, Union Civil Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted that his ministry has advised airlines to cap airfares to a maximum of Rs 10,000 for flights to and from Kerala and nearby airports. Though officially the capping came on Wednesday, on Sunday the ministry tweeted compliance of its directives.
Many are still stranded in their homes with no food and sheaths of water around them at various places in Alapuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.
At Chengannur in Alapuzha district, at least 5,000 are stranded, according to revenue officials. Many people are still stranded as they prefer to be in their homes.
The number of those displaced in the torrential rains has been put at 7.24 lakh by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also said most of the affected had been rescued and the government’s focus would now be their rehabilitation.