PM announces Rs.10 bn relief package for Bihar (Lead, changing dateline)

August 28th, 2008 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) Describing the floods in Bihar as a “national calamity”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday announced an immediate assistance of Rs.10 billion for rescue and relief operations as well as 125,000 tonnes of food grain to the thousands affected.The prime minister announced the aid after an aerial survey along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi of the four most-seriously-hit districts - Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Madhepura.

Nearly 1.4 million people have been displaced by the flood waters of the river Kosi after it changed its course due to a breach in its embankment upstream in Nepal.

During his aerial survey, the prime minister was accompanied by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Railway Minister Lalu Yadav, Chemicals and Fertilizers and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Expressing his deep anguish at the havoc caused by the floods, Manmohan Singh directed that all steps should be taken to help the people.

He said the central government would extend all possible help to the Bihar government.

An amount of Rs.100,000 would be given from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of those killed in the floods.

“The central government will provide necessary material and technical assistance to the state government to prevent further deterioration in the embankments and protective structures,” said a statement issued here.

The Bihar chief minister asked the prime minister to find a permanent solution to the problem of floods in consultation with Nepal.

Manmohan SIngh said a high-level team would be set up to coordinate matters with the government of Nepal.

The central government has said it will procure and supply tarpaulin tents and GI sheets for the flood affected.

Special Indian Air Force sorties would be arranged to provide packaged drinking water and high capacity helicopters would be deployed for evacuation of people, the statement said.

Teams of doctors and paramedics would be kept on standby.

The ministry of home affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will jointly provide 100 additional motorized boats for rescue operations, while the department of animal husbandry will provide assistance for the livestock affected by the floods.

Nitish Kumar, who met Manmohan Singh a day earlier in New Delhi, said over 55 people had died in the current floods and over 2.5 million people in 15 districts affected.

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