Orissa flood toll 35, Patil announces Rs.5 bn relief (Lead)

September 23rd, 2008 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Shivraj PatilBhubaneswar, Sep 23 (IANS) Floods in the Mahanadi river and its tributaries following incessant rains have claimed 35 lives with six deaths reported Tuesday. Home Minister Shivraj Patil announced preliminary assistance of Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore) for the victims after making an aerial survey of the affected areas.The floods have affected about four million people in 18 of Orissa’s 30 districts and of them 125,000 still remain marooned, according to state government officials.

“It is a very big flood and has done a lot of damage,” Patil told reporters here. The central government will provide all assistance to the state without any political consideration, he said.

Earlier in the day, he made an aerial survey of the affected areas with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and senior congress leaders.

The Orissa government submitted a memorandum to Patil seeking initial financial assistance of Rs.24.54 billion (Rs.2,454.35 crore) to carry out relief and restoration work in the affected areas, an official of the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Relief and rescue officials were yet to reach some villages because of heavy currents that make it difficult for boats to ply, Revenue Secretary G.V. Venugopala Sarma admitted.

“The situation has improved in some places but it continues to remain grim in some areas of the coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur,” Sarma told IANS.

Navy personnel and paramilitary forces Tuesday joined the relief and rescue mission, hoping to reach the marooned people.

About 300,000 people evacuated in the past five days have been staying in high-rise buildings, schools and cyclone shelters after their houses were destroyed.

The floods have destroyed paddy crops in over 400,000 hectares in the state.

“I was planning to repay a loan of Rs.20,000 that I had taken from the local bank but now every thing is lost,” Sukru Bhoi, a farmer in western Orissa’s Boudh district, told IANS on phone. “I do not know how to recover the loss. It is hopeless,” he said.

Arabinda Kumar Padhee, director of the agriculture and food production department, told IANS: “At least 400,000 hectares of crop lands have been submerged in the state.

“The worst-hit are the western districts of Bolangir, Kalahandi and Budah and the coastal districts of Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Puri and Bhadrak.”

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