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Kerala floods: Not business as usual

Future looks bleak for traders, farmers in Ernakulam

A hundred days after the floods, there is a deluge of complaints that the government has failed traders, farmers, and industrial enterprises.

The general secretary of Ernakulam district unit of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti (KVVES) P.C. Jacob summed up the mood among traders when he said, “there is no hope”.

The floods struck the State when businesses were already on the downward slope. Of the more than 45,000 KVVES members in the district, 6,600 were directly affected.

There had been promises of interest-fee loans and concessions on tax payments. However, nothing has materialised.

Farmers’ plight

Karumalloor was among the villages that bore the brunt of floodwaters. P.P. Jeeson, a paddy farmer says that more than a hundred farmers under his paddy collective in the village had lost around 175 acres of paddy that was near-ready for harvest. Authorities said after an evaluation that the paddy had survived, denying the farmers compensation whereas in reality more than 75% of the harvest was lost.

The famed handloom of Chendamangalam is back on its feet after the floods, not with government support but with the help of generous non-governmental agencies.

The ‘Chekuttyppava’ of post-floods fame had fetched more than ₹12 lakh for the cooperative, Ajit Kumar Gothuruth of Chendamangalam Karimpadam Weavers’ Cooperative Society said. Thirty-eight looms were up and running and the future did not look so bleak, he said.

Small industries

Sojan Joseph, president of Edayar Small Industries Association, said 91 units got submerged in Edayar and even their insurers had deserted them.

Some of the units had lost up to ₹20 crore. Traders like Mr. Jacob felt that the government could have stepped in to increase money flow by offering soft loans which would have boosted the business and augmented revenue for the government.

Even deferment of tax payments would have been good, he said.

The government appears eager to raise revenue but no measure to protect the business is anywhere on the scene.

The traders had raised funds to the tune of ₹1 crore, half of which had been given as emergency aid to the worst-affected businesses while the remaining amount had been given away as interest-free loans that would be repaid, he added.

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