The deadly floods in India’s southern state of Kerala have caused an estimated $2.7bn worth of damages, destroying homes, roads, bridges, and huge tracts of farmland, just ahead of the region’s lucrative festive and tourist season. The severe flooding — said to be the worst in a century — is said to have killed over 300 persons so far and displaced more than 700,000. Authorities said the floods had destroyed 20,000 houses, submerged 40,000 hectares of farmland — including those growing tea, rubber and other commodities — and damaged 83,000km of roads, including 16,000km of major arteries.
Kerala has the third highest population density in India and is the most urbanised state in India. It’s therefore only natural that it has the highest number of buildings per unit land area. It has been about three times the national average since 1961. A 2016 analysis by Laurie Baker Centre for Habitat Studies shows that the number of both residential and non-residential buildings have risen at a higher rate than the rest of India.
In flood-affected areas, none of these buildings were spared. Reports indicate extensive damage to the buildings, and household goods. Some buildings may have to be almost entirely rebuilt, and others refurbished.
The huge demand for reconstruction is also an opportunity, because 62 percent of the state’s economy is in the tertiary sector, which is primarily real estate and trade. This is followed by 26 per cent in secondary sector, which is dominated by construction. The economics of reconstruction can be a major incidental gain for the state. Increased labour participation and the resultant rise of per capita income, which is presently about 55 per cent more than the national average, and trade in consumer goods and construction materials could be a stimulus that can accelerate the state’s growth.
It is now duty of the entire coatings and corrosion mitigation industry to come together and rise up to the occasion and help the affected citizens in this time of distress in the most constructive way.