Makes aerial inspection of flood-hit areas along wit Sonia

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday announced an ad hoc support of Rs. 500-crore for flood-hit Assam. The Centre would decide on the exact financial support for the State after the Central team, which has reached the State to make an assessment of the damage, submitted its report, he told journalists here.

Dr. Singh earlier made an aerial inspection of the flood-affected areas in Jorhat, Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts along with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for over an hour and reviewed the overall situation in a meeting with Mr. Gogoi and his Cabinet colleagues at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi international airport here.

“For the next two days, our focus will be on rescuing people marooned in flood waters and on extending relief to those who have been forced to leave their homes,” the Prime Minister said. He noted that the State government had distributed 10,000 quintals of food items among the flood-affected. If required, the Centre would quickly move additional quantities of essential commodities to the State.

“The people of Assam are facing one of the worst floods in recent times. These floods have led to loss of lives and have inflicted considerable damage to crops, embankments, roads, and other infrastructure,” he said.

Once rescue operations were over, the focus would shift to the restoration of the damaged infrastructure. “Once the immediate relief work has taken place, we will pay more adequate attention through medium and long-term problems of flood relief, of flood control, control of erosion and related problems,” he said in a statement before returning to New Delhi.

Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Gogoi were present when Dr. Singh was reading out his statement.

The Centre would extend a system for reconstruction of the damaged assets and flood control works. It was working closely with the State government and doing everything possible to provide relief to the affected people. The National Disaster Response Force had deployed 16 teams, comprising 640 men along with 71 boats and flood rescue equipment. The Army had deployed 752 personnel for rescue and relief operations. Over 4,000 people have been rescued, 400 personnel transported and 20 tonnes of relief material delivered by the Air Force, he said.

The death toll in floods and landslips in the State has gone up to 81, including 36 children, while 11 persons — including four children — are missing in eight districts. Over 19.92 lakh people in over 2000 villages of 27 districts have been affected. Over 4.39 lakh people are sheltered in 622 camps, says an Assam Disaster Report.