Kerala floods may have caused damage of Rs 20,000 crore: ASSOCHAM


New Delhi: With floods playing havoc in Kerala, the state, known as ‘God’s Own Country’ would have suffered massive economic losses, the estimates of which could well be Rs 15,000-20,000 crore with a staggered impact of a few months, mostly on tourism, cash crops, trade including international trade from Kochi and other ports, besides shaking the lives of millions of people, an ASSOCHAM quick assessment has indicated.

“In the state’s Rs 8 lakh crore Gross Domestic Product, tourism and agriculture, mostly rice, pepper, cardamom, cashew, tea, coffee, coconut, contribute about 10 per cent each (tourism -10 and slightly more for agriculture). Then, the internal and external trade contribute a lot. The external trade not only comprises exports of cash crops and other industrial goods and services from Kerala, but also commercial activities from ports like Kochi and three international ports from the state. At this point of time, all these components of the state GDP are in a state of total chaos and destruction,” the chamber said, receiving inputs from the state.

Kerala which is among the states receiving maximum of remittances from the Non-Resident Indians, particularly in the Gulf, would look up to its people abroad to raise their level of remittances to support families, though it may not be enough.

It said, Kerala is not only witnessing the worst ever floods and devastation since 1924, the phase of natural fury has been quite prolonged. “The prolonged impact not only hampers the relief and rehabilitation, it takes long to re-build even the basic infrastructure like roads, re-erecting of electric poles, broad band cables, clearing the roads in the mountain region of the mud and landslides . Besides re-building of houses would take weeks and months. As far as the economic impact is concerned, while the official agencies would arrive at their own estimates, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the loss could even be Rs 20,000 crore, as things stand today”.

ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, “Tourism and cash crops are the life line of Kerala. When these two are completely crippled with a prolonged impact, the losses would be enormous leaving lakhs of people in the hardship. We in the industry would appeal to our members to generously contribute towards the relief and rehabilitation work”.

According to the official documents like the Economic Survey of the state, in agriculture the cropping pattern is dominated by cash crops constituting 63 per cent of the total cropped area while food crops consisting of rice, tapioca and pulses account for about 10 per cent of the state’s farm products. Among cash crops, coconut has the largest area under crop cover (30 per cent) followed by rubber (21.3 per cent) pepper (3.3 per cent) and coffee (3.28 per cent). Rice has the third largest area under crop cover (6.6 per cent). “Floods have left nothing untouched among all these crops”, breaking the back of the farmers and those allied sectors like marine products.

Same is true about tourism as the state had become a sought after destination for international tourists with several beaches and a wide range of geo-ecology. “With airports shut and likely to resume operations after a week or more, the entire tourism economy has gone into a troubled spot”.

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