Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said a memorandum has been sent to the Centre seeking an assistance of Rs 7,636 crore on account of floods in 19 districts of the state that claimed 514 lives and left behind a trail of destruction. According to official sources, the Centre, without any delay, has informed the state government about the visit of an inter-ministerial team for on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
The team, for assessment of damage caused by the floods, would be headed by Mukesh Mittal, the joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It would have representatives from the ministries of agriculture and farmers welfare, finance, rural development, drinking water and sanitation, road transport and highways and water resources.
Speaking to reporters after the weekly ‘Lok Samvad’ (public interaction) programme here, Kumar said, “A memorandum of Rs 7,636 crore prepared with pragmatic approach has been send to the Centre for assistance to carry rehabilitation and restoration work in 19 districts that faced inundation.” “The memorandum, incorporating details of damage to crops, houses, damaged roads and other items, has been prepared in a pragmatic manner and not like a thick piece of document consisting of impractical details,” he said.
Kumar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi after aerial survey of flood-hit districts of Purnea, Kisanganj, Araria and Katihar on August 26 had announced immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore and promised that the Centre would provide more funds after getting reports of damage caused. He took potshots at leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Congress leaders for mocking the prime minister’s announcement of Rs 500 crore earlier, which they had said was half the amount that the UPA government had provided to the state after the floods in 2008. “The UPA government had given Rs 1,000 crore in 2008 only for basic relief like distribution of food packets, polythene sheets and others. It had given no assistance for rehabilitation and restoration work post-Koshi flood,” Kumar, flanked by Disaster Management minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav and principal secretary Pratyay Amrit, said. “The state government had to get loan from the World Bank for carrying out large-scale rehabilitation work after devastating flood of 2008,” he said.
Kumar said besides carrying out relief and rescue operation on a war footing, the state government has made available Rs 2,600 crore for distribution of gratuitous money to families who suffered from flood fury. “Around 13 lakh families have been given Rs 6,000 each for meeting their immediate needs, including ration, through RTGS in their bank account and the rest would get it in another one-two weeks,” he said.
According to the state government, there are 38 lakh families who would get Rs 6,000 each as gratutious money.
On state Health minister abd BJP leader Mangal Pandey performing “political duty” in other states while flood victims are facing problems after water has receded at home, Kumar said “A minister also hails from a political party and performing duty for the party is nothing unusual.”
Pandey is the BJP’s in-charge in Himachal Pradesh, which is slated to go to polls later this year. “In the digital age, distance is not a big issue. A minister can keep tab over functioning of his department with the help of gadgets,” the chief minister said. When asked about the Rs 5 cr cheque from the Gujarat government for flood relief which has been accepted by Kumar, bringing back the memories of 2010 when he had returned a donation from the then chief minister Narendra Modi, he said, “The media is free to make its own interpretation.”