After an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas of Andhra Pradesh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday announced Rs. 1000 crore as advance Central assistance to the State for relief and rehabilitation measures.
Dr. Singh said further assistance would come through in accordance with the established procedures, after a Central team visits the State to assess the extent of damage. During his survey of Krishna and Guntur districts, along with Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, he had seen the devastation caused by the floods.
Responding to the charge that flood-hit Karnataka did not get adequate assistance from the Centre as it was ruled by the BJP, Dr. Singh said there was no discrimination against any State.
“When it comes to human tragedy, we will not discriminate between one State and another on political considerations. As long as I am the Prime Minister, it will not happen.”
When his response was sought to the Andhra Pradesh government’s demand to treat the floods as a national calamity, he quipped, “Every such calamity is a national calamity. There is no particular reason why it should not be?”
Dr. Singh refused to be drawn into a discussion on the reported failure of the Central Water Commission and early warning system about the impending floods. He said he was not here to find fault with agencies or judge how efficiently they had worked.
“My purpose was to get a broad idea of havoc caused by the floods.” At the same time, the Centre would certainly take a critical look at lapses, if any, including aspects relating to disaster management and take remedial steps.
Asked to comment on AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s observations on inter-linking of rivers, the Prime Minister said the proposal was there for some time but it was not an easy task. It was a massive exercise having environmental implications and requiring a thorough study. The Water Resources Ministry was on the job of preparing a detailed project report. When he was told that the State government had sought Rs.12,225 crore aid, the Prime Minister asserted: “Money will not be a constraint. I assure people of the State all help from the Centre. We will stand behind the State in this hour of crisis.”