News Highlights

Consultation on CDS’s involvement in the Reconstruction of Kerala in the context of the Mega Floods of August 2018

A consultation meeting was held at the CDS on 4 September, 2018 consisting of all faculty, staff and students to discuss a draft of the CDS strategy in supporting the reconstruction efforts in the context of the recent megafloods.

Prof Sunil Mani, Director, started the meeting by appreciating the efforts of the students and indeed faculty who were initially involved actively in relief work.  He proposed a strategy for supporting the state government in its reconstruction efforts. The proposal has three components –Support in cash which may be mobilized from the Centre’s recourses to be given to the CMDRF, support in kind which will involve identification of an area which has been worst affected by the floods, select an institution such as a school where specific needs could be provided in kind. And finally, support in intangibles, which involves research studies by CDS faculty that are useful to an informed understanding of the reconstruction process, for which CDS has resources to fund these projects, which were both macro and micro studies.  The macro studies proposed ranged from those on the likely impact of the floods on the overall economy of Kerala, identification of firms with CSR budgets, which could then be encouraged to spend their CSR budgets on reconstruction projects. Regarding the micro studies, those proposed ranged from case studies of communities and traditional artisans and entrepreneurs who were very badly affected such as those making Aranmula Kannadi, handlooms of Chendamangalam and the plywood factories at Perumbavoor. Further, the case of Munnar-, as a centre of tourism and tea plantations is another aspect that was proposed. The Perumbavoor Plywood case will also involve analyzing the conditions of migrant workers.

The Director reiterated that these three components suggested were only a suggestion and an initial thought for what the CDS might do. He welcomed suggestions from the audience. Dr Devika said that the RULSG unit of the centre had already identified certain areas that needed to be studied and that efforts are on to work out these projects. Prof KJ Joseph also mentioned that he was in touch with the plantation authorities and that the NRPPD unit would chalk out a plan to address the issues, particularly in Idukki to start work in the rebuilding of Kerala.

In the ensuing discussions, there was a fair amount of consensus on the three components of the proposed CDS strategy and especially the research ideas. Regarding the selection of a Panchayat, it was decided to select “Kanakary Grama Panchayat”  in the Kuttanad Area as it is one of the worst affected. The proposals will now be taken past the governance committees of the Centre and implemented immediately there afterwards. The Director invited volunteers from the faculty so that work may be started without delay and completed possibly within three months beginning September 15, 2018.