Kerala in rehab mode, as print bodies across India unite

The print and packaging industry has been severely impacted by the Kerala floods. According to the initial reports that are trickling in the losses would be more than Rs 100 cr to factories, machines and material loss.

20 Aug 2018 | By Amogh Dikshit

Aerial view of a home affected by the floods

R Gopakumar, president, KMPA, said, “As the flood waters have slowly started to recede, the magnitude of the disaster is unfolding in front of our eyes. The KMPA committee has personally seen printing units completely or partially submerged with their owners and employees homeless. For most of such brother printers, their life’s work and earnings have been destroyed in a few moments of nature’s fury. A large number of them are in relief camps without access to even basic necessities. Without our generous support, most of our fellow printers will not be able to come back to life at all.”

P Sajith of Welbound Worldwide said, “I think more help will be needed in rebuilding lives of many of them who have lost everything. It depends if the government does a fair and efficient job in distributing the funds for rehabilitation. If there are issues, we will seek the help of the print community across India. As of now basic things like food, medicines, diesel, etc are needed which a lot of agencies are organising.” He added, “The real impact will be after some time and by then the media and the world would have lost interest in this issue. That's when we can do something. I am really grateful and proud of the print community for responding like this.”

Companies like Welbound and APL were among the first to provide assistance to the Kerala printers. Welbound has assured to offer free maintenance service and APL will be providing with the replacement of machines that have been affected by the floods.

CP Paul of APL Machinery said, “We humbly announce free service and reinstallations of the machines in Kerala which have been affected by the floods. We have more than 200 machines running in the state. This is our small effort to help the print fraternity.”

Premier print and manufacturing federations like the AIFMP and IPAMA have galvanised their members to aid and assist. Arvind Mardikar, honorary general secretary of AIFMP said, “We are aware of the situation and trying everything possible through AIFMP. On the last two occasions during the J&K and Chennai floods, the handsome contribution was made by AIFMP plus we collected funds from various affiliate Associations. It may take a little while but we are on the job.”

Water-logging on the streets of Kerala

Meanwhile, more than seven hundred paper traders who had collected for the FPTA Conference and the Centenary Celebrations of the CPTA in Kolkata collected funds which were handed over to the Coimbatore association to disperse in the affected districts of Kerala. Thanks to a calibrated plan along with co-ordination with the locals in Kerala, the paper traders are distributing medicines, water, baby food, biscuits, clothing, etc.

According to firsthand reports that PrintWeek India received from colleagues in the industry from the state of Kerala, it has been fishermen who are used to battle-out the heavy tides of the sea used their experience to rescue the people.

Initially, they were helpless for a day since they couldn’t handle the current with single engine boats. Later they analysed the issue and mobilised 100 double engine boats with around 300 skilled swimmers and opened their own control room under Kerala Swathanthra Malsya Thozhiali Union (SMTU) and Kerala Independent Fishworkers Union and started communicating between the district administration, Disaster Management Team, Indian Coast Guard and Police in the flood-affected region. The SMTU mobilised about 300 skilled swimmers from coastal villages for this operation) and a local guide. These rescue ops ferried 20-25 people in a trip. In last couple of days, they rescued about thousands of lives from the high-risk disaster zone.

Despite the damages to their own fibre boats, outboard engines, minor to major injuries to the fishermen, they are swimming against all odds with a mission fuelled by passion and commitment to save thousands of lives.

Recent updates about the tragedy

The death toll in Kerala has crossed four hundred lives since 9 August.

Kerala was struck with the impact of unusual southwest monsoon, recording the wettest monsoon in the recent years. The state has experienced about 15 days of rainfall in the short span of 40 hours between 13 August and 16 August. The worst affected day was 16 August, when the state received more than nine times the average rainfall resulting in 50 fatalities on the day, primarily due to landslides.

At the beginning of June, Kerala experienced around 25% less rain than the average but since then the amount of rainfall has skyrocketed. For the next 10 weeks, the rainfall received was more than the average rainfall. District-wise, in the last three days, Idukki and Ernakulam topped the charts with 80% and 47.5% more rain than the average.

The central government has offered Rs 500 crore to the state as a result of this tragedy. According to media reports, more than seven lakh people have been rescued and relocated to the relief camps, there were hundreds waiting for the help of the rescue squad.

As many as 7,24,649 people were in 5,645 relief camps across the State, according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. All those stranded in flood-hit areas would be rescued soon.


Also read, Kerala floods: KMPA issues an SOS