Mains Paper: 3 | Environment
Prelims level: Kerala Flood
Mains level: Kerala government's attempt to force employees to contribute for flood rehab contrasts with the voluntary spirit seen during relief
- In Kerala’s five lakh plus state employees were affected as overflowing rivers and crumbling hills wreaked havoc on homesteads and livelihoods.
- Since the august the people of Kerala as it struggles to recover from the devastating floods that drowned large parts of the state.
- The government estimated the economic loss due to the floods at over Rs 20,000 crore.
- Much of the infrastructure in the flood-affected districts will need to be rebuilt and standing crops in thousands of hectares have been destroyed.
- A massive voluntary effort involving thousands of ordinary citizens had boosted the state’s rescue operations during the floods and limited the loss of lives to about 300.
- The similar collective public action has facilitated the raising of funds and collection of material for the rehabilitation of flood victims and rebuilding of public infrastructure as well as private assets including houses.
Initiatives taken by government
- Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan backed a proposal from some quarters in the civil society that salaried employees voluntarily contribute a month’s salary to the chief minister’s relief fund to enable resource mobilisation for rebuilding Kerala.
- However, the proposal, as it took the shape of a government order, has assumed coercive features.
- Also the Kerala High Court, hearing a petition against Travancore Devaswom Board, observed that the “salary challenge” has lost its voluntary spirit and seems to be becoming an act of money-grab.
- The court has stayed the action of Malabar and Travancore devaswom boards to make salary contributions to flood relief compulsory.
- The state government could do well to rethink its proposal.
- The government order had clarified that contributions were not mandatory, but it also insisted that employees reluctant to contribute should inform the government in writing.
Analysis of this act
- This attempt to create a paper trail of an employee’s reluctance has shades of moral shaming and hence should be deemed a coercive act.
- Floods did not make a distinction between government and non-government employees.
- A large number of Kerala’s five lakh plus state employees were affected as overflowing rivers and crumbling hills wreaked havoc on homesteads and livelihoods.
- Not many of them are so well-paid or rich enough to afford to let go of a month’s salary, even if spread over 10 months as the chief minister indicated, for flood rehabilitation even if they wish.
- Forcing people to cough up cash could kill the spirit of voluntary action that has so far driven the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the state.
- The move may also affect consumer spending.
- Retail trade in the state has already taken a hit after the floods washed away the Onam shopping season.
- The state government can think of more inventive avenues for resource mobilisation than unfairly squeeze a captive workforce.
UPSC Prelims Questions:
Q.1) Which of the following are the objectives laid under the National Forest Policy, 1988?
1. It proposes to have 33% of geographical area under forest or tree cover by 2030.
2. It aims at checking siltation of reservoirs for mitigating floods.
3. It seeks to meet the minor forest produce requirement of rural and tribal population.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) The Kerala government's attempt to force employees to contribute for flood rehab contrasts with the voluntary spirit seen during relief. Examine the statement