Lost important documents in Kerala floods? Here’s how you can get them back

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s flood-battered Kerala is struggling to get back on its feet due to massive loss of lives, private and public property, what has added to their woes is the mass loss and destruction of vital documents.

Even though some people stashed their documents safely on the upper floors of their houses, lakhs of Keralites could not save them from the floodwaters.

PH Kurien, additional chief secretary, Disaster Management, said that the number of people who have lost their documents, mostly government identification documents like aadhaar cards, voter cards, PAN cards, driver’s licences, passports, property documents, insurance certificates, bank certificates, school certificates etc, has not been assessed yet.

“Here, Panchayat governance is quite active. I think locally, Panchayats are the best mechanisms to engage in the documentation. Creating fresh documents is a bit of a challenge in case of any natural disaster. People had actually learnt how to save documents by laminating them or framing them up on the wall, but this event is something to be learned from. Since nothing of this sort happens in recent decades, people only have the memory of what happened a hundred years ago,” said Ray Kancharla of Save the Children.

“We have heard about the issue of documents in the relief camps from many people. It is a genuine concern. Some people could not collect anything since they had to leave their homes in a hurry at night to escape from the flood. They are quite petrified by this whole experience. The government will do something eventually, and I hope that they do so quickly,” he added.

Small businesses completely destroyed

Since Onam was around the corner before the flood hit the state, several vendors had stocked up their business with raw material and other festival-related items. One such small vendor who could not collect anything as his family had to leave the house in just the clothes they were wearing, lost material worth about Rs 4 lakh. When he went back to check on his house, he fell into the floodwater and injured himself and couldn’t even take back any documents with him.

In another case, a woman, who used to earn about Rs 3,000 per month and had taken Rs 15 lakh loan to educate her daughters and build a house, lost her home and all paperwork.

“No one has accessed these issues to that micro level yet,” said Kancharla.

How to get fresh documents?

PAN and Aadhaar cards

Kurien said that camps will be organised August 30 onwards to address the issue. “Once people come and report about the loss, ration and aadhaar cards can be procured quickly since every individual’s thumb impression is in the records. As all the data is computerised, it will be easier to take them out. We are trying to give the ration cards first,” he said.

People can also apply for a duplicate ration card in their taluk’s supply office. Upon receiving the duplicate, they can apply for a new one.

Insurance and property papers

The Disaster Management official said insurance companies will conduct surveys to match information with their records. “Insurance and property papers also won’t be very difficult to procure as everything is stored in computers,” he added.

For land deeds, one can submit an application for a certified copy of their land deed at the sub-registrar’s office. If you have the land deed number and date of registrations, the process will be faster.

Educational certificates

The CBSE will help Kerala students get their education certificates back in case they might have lost them in the floods through its digital repository, the board said on Monday. CBSE has 1,300 schools in Kerala affiliated to it. The students of these schools can retrieve their mark-sheets, migration certificate, and pass certificate from CBSE’s digital academic repository called ‘Parinam Manjusha’.

“Application for school certificates is very simple. One needs to provide their date of birth, or year of passing out, to procure duplicate certificates, there’s no fee involved. Kerala school certificates and records have been computerised since 2002. Every authority has been asked to get the process done very fast,” Kurien said.

Students can submit an application to the DDE office along with headmaster’s certificate. The office will provide new textbooks.

Passports

For those who have lost their passports, Kurien said that the Passport office may come out with a faster solution to ensure that the concerned persons get duplicate passports soon.

Voter ID

Voter’s ID can be reclaimed by logging onto Chief Election Commissioner’s website www.ceo.kerala.gov.in. A form is available on the site and it can be downloaded, filled and submitted to the electoral officer or tehsildar along with a photocopy of the original card.

RC or driving licence

People can submit an application at the regional transport office along with damaged RC book or driving licence. If it is lost in the floods, one has to publish an ad in the newspaper after which the RTO office will issue the documents within 14 days.