Staff Reporter

Shivraj Patil undertakes aerial survey of areas affected by floods

BANGALORE: The Centre has announced the release of Rs. 250 crore for flood relief in six districts of North Karnataka.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil made this announcement here on Wednesday after an aerial survey of the some of the districts (Bidar, Raichur, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum and Gulbarga) affected by floods. Mr. Patil later flew to Bangalore to attend a high-level meeting in which Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, Ministers and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly N. Dharam Singh and Congress leaders participated.

`Centre doing best'

Mr. Patil told presspersons after the meeting that it discussed the immediate steps to be taken to mitigate the loss of lives and property and stressed that although Rs. 250 crore might seem inadequate, the Centre was doing its best.

The State Government had sought a Rs. 1,600-crore package for the six districts. Mr. Kumaraswamy extracted an assurance from Mr. Patil during a visit to Delhi a few days ago that a Central team would visit the State to assess the extent of loss.

The team subsequently visited the flood-hit districts, Mr. Patil recalled, and from its report he had gathered that Karnataka's drought problems seemed more widespread than the recent floods. The State Government had made a presentation of its own assessment of the damage and the relief measures needed. Mr. Patil said that at Wednesday's meeting, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president M. Mallikarjun Kharge along with Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Yediyurappa had specifically sought foodgrains on a contingency basis to distribute to those who had been displaced by the floods and had lost the crops and livestock and even their homes.

Disaster management

Mr. Patil said he had sought from the State Government a detailed plan for putting in place a permanent mechanism for disaster management. That would be forwarded to the National Disaster Management Authority, and a permanent system could be established for disaster management. He said Karnataka and other States facing either floods or drought were coping as best they could, but there would still be complaints.