Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday wound up his two-day aerial survey of flood devastation in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and granted interim relief of Rs.1,000 crore (Rs.10 billion) to each state.
“I announce an interim relief of Rs.1,000 crore for Karnataka. For the 226 precious lives lost in the flash floods and rain havoc, I have already announced compensation of Rs.100,000 to the next of kin of the victims,” he said at a press conference in Raichur, about 400 km from Karnataka capital Bangalore.
Accompanied by Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, Dr. Manmohan Singh saw the trail of devastation in Raichur, Gulbarga and Bijapur districts, among the worst affected by the Sep 30-Oct 2 rain and flash floods in the state.
The prime minister had announced Rs.1,000 crore interim relief to Andhra Pradesh Friday after an aerial survey of the damage in Krishna and Guntur districts.
Dr. Manmohan Singh has also granted Rs.100,000 to the kith or kin of the around 290 people who lost their lives in the rain and floods. Of them, 225 died in Karnataka and 65 in Andhra.
After an overnight halt at Andhra Pradesh capital Hyderabad, Dr. Manmohan Singh Saturday surveyed the havoc in the state’s Mahabubnagar and Kurnool districts and later in Karnataka’s Raichur, Gulbarga and Bijapur districts.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah accompanied him on the survey in the state while Yeddyurappa and central minister M. Veerappa Moily were with him during the survey in Karnataka.
The rain and flash floods, termed the worst in 100 years in the two states, have left over a million people in Karnataka and around 1.7 million in Andhra Pradesh homeless as their houses have been partially or fully damaged.
Karnataka has estimated its losses at Rs.20,000 crore and sought immediate central help of Rs.10,000 crore. Andhra Pradesh has put its losses at Rs.12,666 crore and wants the central government to give RS.6,000 crore.
Announcing interim relief of Rs.1,000 crore to each state, Manmohan Singh has assured that more would be provided and that money would not be a constraint for relief and rehabilitation work.
At Raichur, Mr. Yeddyurappa and senior Karnataka officials briefed the prime minister about the extent of damage and the cost involved to rebuild the houses, schools, roads, bridges and repair irrigation canals and the breached bunds of lakes and tanks.
Dr. Manmohan Singh told reporters at Raichur: “I’m not here to discuss nuts and bolts. I have assured the Karnataka government that the union government would stand behind it in these times of crisis.”
“Money will not be a constraint to make good the losses. But there are procedures to determine the extent of funds to be released,” he added.
The central government will dispatch a team each to the two states soon after receiving a memorandum from them on the destruction and damage caused to people, crops and property in the region.
Asserting that the central government would never discriminate against states based on political affiliations, the prime minister assured the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka of full support in rehabilitating the affected people.
Earlier, Karnataka chief secretary S.V. Ranganath made a power-point presentation to apprise the prime minister of the damage and the relief measures to help the affected people.
On the inter-linking of rivers to check recurrence of such natural calamities, Dr. Manmohan Singh said a new plan would be initiated to prevent floods that cause so much damage to life and property.
“Knowledge derived from these flash floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh will be utilised to finalise the plan. The centre will treat the affected people in both the states alike in relief and rehabilitation works,” Singh reiterated.
Yeddyurappa briefed Singh on the rehabilitation work taken up by the state government and the central help needed for the massive work as over 350,000 houses have been damaged, leaving more than a million people homeless.
“On my briefing about the post-flood situation in the affected areas, the prime minister is convinced about the extent of devastation in 15 districts,” Yeddyurappa told reporters after Manmohan Singh left Raichur.
Thanking the prime minister for the interim relief of Rs.1,000 crore, Yeddyurappa said his government hoped the central government would release another Rs.2,000 crore so that houses can be built for about 75,000 families and 219 villages would be shifted to higher plains from low-lying areas near the banks of the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers.
“This will be our top priority. Land will be sanctioned soon so that sites could be formed at the earliest. My cabinet colleagues, including district in-charge ministers, will visit the flood-hit villages to assess the requirements of the affected people and fulfill them,” Mr Yeddyurappa noted.