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Modi announces 500 crore relief fund for Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, August 18: The Prime Minister has announced a 500 crore relief fund for the Kerala floods after a high-level meeting with chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The Centre had earlier announced a fund for 100 crore, this decision had come under great scrutiny. Finance Minister of Kerala Thomas Issac had expressed his disappointment in a tweet, “Total loss of floods to Kerala around ₹8000 crores. Immediate mitigation and rectification expenditure to the state around ₹3000.And the central grant precious ₹100. And that too if it is from regular disaster management fund due to Kerala , I do not know!”

Prime Minister’s aerial survey to witness the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains in Kerala was called off on Saturday due to bad weather, state government officials said.

Modi, who arrived in the state capital on Friday night, flew in to Kochi earlier in the morning.

He was to be accompanied in his survey by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran and other top state officials.

His visit comes at a time when the Congress-led opposition has been demanding immediate deployment of the Army since the state government has been unable to deal with the crisis.

Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have resulted in the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over 3 lakh others forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.

Before returning to Delhi from Kochi, the Prime Minister will chair a meeting to discuss the situation.

Rains subsided on Saturday morning resulting in the water level in Idukki and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts coming down.

But on Friday night, air lifting could not take place in Chengannur as the incessant rains continued in the region.

“The Prime Minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced on August 12. He assured the state government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines would be provided, as requested,” an official statement said.

Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

Insurance companies were also directed to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes. Directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojna for farmers.

The statement said villagers, whose houses have been destroyed in the floods, would be provided Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin houses on priority.

“The Prime Minister complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation. He observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority,” the statement said.

The disaster has triggered an unprecedented rescue and relief operation led by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy along with teams of National Disaster Response Force involving about 1,300 personnel and 435 boats.

Thirty eight helicopters have been deployed, apart from 20 aircraft used for ferrying resources.

The Army has deployed 10 columns and 10 teams of Engineering Task Force (ETFs) involving around 790 personnel.

The Navy has provided 82 teams, the Coast Guard 42 along with two helicopters and two ships.

Five Companies of paramilitary troops have also been deployed for rescue and relief measures.

Nearly, 7,000 persons have been rescued since August 9 and some 900 given medical assistance.

(Inputs from IANS)

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