Thiruvananthapuram: Undertaking an aerial survey of flood-hit Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced an interim relief of Rs 500 crore for the state in addition to the Rs 100 crore declared earlier. The assistance, however, falls short of the Rs 2,000 crore immediate relief sought by the Pinarayi Vijayan government.
Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF), a Prime Minister's Office (PMO) statement said. "The prime minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 12," it said.
A murderous monsoon has claimed 324 lives in the state and wiped Rs 19,500 crore off the economy, wrecking the tourism industry, destroying standing crops in thousands of hectares and inflicting huge damage to infrastructure.
Shortly after the Centre announced the interim relief, Congress president Rahul Gandhi urged the Prime Minister to declare the floods as a national disaster. “Please declare Kerala floods a National Disaster without any delay. The lives, livelihood and future of millions of our people is at stake,” he tweeted.
Modi arrived in the state on Friday night and embarked on an aerial survey of the worst-hit areas along with CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday morning. The helicopter, however, had to turn back following heavy rains near the Kochi Naval Base.
After a high-level review meeting with the CM, Modi resumed the aerial assessment of the damage. He was accompanied by Governor P Sathasivam, Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Ninister KJ Alphons and other officials during the survey Aluva-Thrissur regions.
Expressing grief over the unfortunate deaths and damage caused to property due to floods, the prime minister observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority.
Vijayan later tweeted that the prime minister has sanctioned Rs 500 crore as immediate relief. "As per the initial estimate, the state has suffered a loss of Rs 19,512 crore. The actual loss can be ascertained after the water recedes in the affected areas. The state has sought an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore," he said.
In a meeting convened to assess the flood situation in the State, CM Pinarayi Vijayan informed Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the State has suffered a loss of ₹19,512 crore as per initial assessment. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/f6SSmzjfj7— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 18, 2018
The prime minister's visit comes a week after Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the state and conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas. Modi also assured the state government that relief materials, including food grains and medicines, would be provided, as requested.
Insurance companies have been asked to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes and directions have been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojana to agriculturists.
The prime minister also directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to repair the main national highways damaged due to the floods on a priority basis. The central public sector undertaking like the NTPC and the PGCIL have been asked to render all possible assistance to the state government in restoring power lines.
PM announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to Kerala. This is in addition to Rs. 100 crore announced by the Home Minister on 12.08.2018. He also assured the State Government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines etc would be provided, as requested.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 18, 2018
PM @narendramodi expressed grief and sorrow on the unfortunate deaths and damage caused to property due to floods in Kerala. PM announced ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those seriously injured from PMNRF.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 18, 2018
Villagers, whose 'kutcha' houses have been destroyed in the devastating floods, would be provided the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin homes on a priority basis. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee scheme 5.5 crore person days have been sanctioned in the labour budget 2018-19.
Any further request for incurring the person days would be considered as per the requirement projected by the state. Under the Mission for the Integrated Development of Horticulture, farmers would be provided assistance for replantation of damaged horticulture crops.
The prime minister also complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation, the PMO statement added. Meanwhile, rains lashing several parts of the state since this morning is causing concern as it could hamper the rescue and relief operations.
(With PTI inputs)