Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday announced a financial assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore to Uttarakhand for disaster relief. Of this, Rs. 145 crore would be released immediately.

In a statement made after an aerial survey of the hilly regions of the State, where torrential rains wreaked havoc and caused extensive damage in the past few days, Dr. Singh said he had directed all Central agencies to render all possible assistance in their capacity to the State. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi accompanied the Prime Minister during the aerial survey.

Dr. Singh announced ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of those killed and Rs. 50,000 each to those who injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

Further, the Centre would provide from the PMNRF ex-gratia assistance of Rs.1 lakh each to those whose houses were completely destroyed and Rs. 50,000 each to those whose houses were damaged.

“We saw for ourselves the large scale devastation that has been caused in the State. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have suffered injury or loss of property in this huge tragedy,” the Prime Minister said. The priority for the authorities was to rescue the stranded persons and provide relief to the affected people.

“Assessing the magnitude of the losses, both in terms of lives lost and houses destroyed, or the damage to buildings, roads and other infrastructure, is an exercise that will take some more time,” he said. Dr. Singh added that both he and Ms. Gandhi were distressed by the devastation caused by flash floods and rains.

While estimates put the death toll at 102, it was feared that loss of lives could be much higher. So far, more than 10,000 people had been rescued and were being provided food, clothing and shelter. Many persons were still stranded. The maximum damage was in Kedarnath and its vicinity, Dr. Singh noted.

The Central and State governments would continue to work in close coordination to ensure that every possible effort was made, not only to provide immediate relief to the affected people, but also to help them reconstruct their lives, Dr. Singh said.