PM agrees Bihar flood is a national calamity, announces Rs 1,000-cr relief

Purnia, Aug 28 | Updated: Aug 30 2008, 04:49am hrs
Terming the floods in Bihar as a national calamity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced an immediate release of Rs 1,000 crore and 1.25 lakh metric tonne of foodgrains to the state reeling under an unprecedented deluge caused by river Kosi.

Singh, who undertook an aerial survey of the four worst affected districts along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, announced a relief of Rs one lakh from the Prime Ministers National Relief Fund for the next of kin of each of victims.

At least 55 people have so far lost their lives while over 25 lakh people in 15 districts have been hit by the impact of one of the worst floods in recent memory with the worst hit being Araria, Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa.

Singh said the Centre will provide all necessary material and technical assistance to Bihar to prevent further deterioration in the embankments and protective structures.

A high-level team would be set up to co-ordinate matters with Nepal government. With an unprecedented scale of relief measure required over an extended period, the Centre will procure and supply Tarpaulin tents and GI sheets as per the state governments request.

Special IAF sorties will be arranged for providing packaged drinking water. The ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will together provide 100 additional motorised boats for rescue operations while IAF choppers would be deployed for evacuation.

Singh was accompanied by Union ministers Shivraj Patil, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan as well as chief minister Nitish Kumar and Leader of the Opposition Rabri Devi.

Singh, however, could not survey the entire 100 km-stretch of the flood-hit districts because of bad weather, the chief minister said.Kumar expressed satisfaction over the relief package but said more aid will be needed in coming months.

The package announced by the PM is satisfactory at the moment to tackle the gigantic task of reaching relief to over 20 lakh people affected by the floods in the four district with the Kosi changing course inundating vast areas, Kumar said.

Stating that the package was in conformity with the demands he had placed before the prime minister during his visit to New Delhi on Thursday, Kumar said the state would soon require around Rs 900 crore to Rs 950 crore for reconstruction of the embankments breached by rivers in Bihar.

Apart from the estimated due of Rs 2,500 crore the state spent on providing relief to the flood-hit areas during last years season, we will require more assistance (from the Centre) for reconstructing villages, run camps for relief for the next three to four months, construct sanitary toilets and solve housing problems, Kumar said.