Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday announced immediate release of Rs 286 crore central share of disaster relief fund to Assam, and promised of “maximum support” once a detailed assessment of the damage caused by the recent floods was done. With this, altogether Rs 672 crore has been released by the Centre under disaster relief fund this year, Singh said.
Singh’s announcement came at a time when Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said that the total worth of damage caused by the recent floods would be anywhere between Rs 1000 crore and Rs 2000 crore. In Meghalaya, chief minister Mukul Sangma had sought Rs 2,000 crore even as the final assessment is yet to be completed.
The union home minister also underlined the need for a well-drawn plan ready at hand in order to face challenges posed by natural calamities and disasters like floods. “Tackling floods and such other natural calamities is one of the priorities in the national agenda of our government, and we will always provide maximum support to the states,” he added.
Addressing a press conference at the end of his day-long trip to the region during which he made aerial survey of flood-hit districts of Assam and adjoining Garo Hills region of Meghalaya, Singh said the Centre was expecting a detailed memorandum from the states, which would be followed up by an assessment by an inter-ministerial team, before a final figure was worked out.
“I met both chief ministers Tarun Gogoi and Mukul Sangma and discussed the situation, and have asked them to send a detailed memorandum each. An inter-ministerial team will then come for a final assessment, after which the Centre will provide maximum possible support,” Singh said.
Singh also announced immediate sanction and release of Rs 8 crore central share under disaster relief fund that was due to Meghalaya (making the total Rs 131 crore) as also Rs 20 crore to Arunachal Pradesh (making the total Rs 90 crore). The Centre’s share in the disaster relief fund is 75 per cent, with the states having to contribute the remainder. Altogether 40 persons had died in last week’s Assam floods, 55 in Meghalaya and 66 in Arunachal Pradesh, he informed.
The union home minister also appealed to political parties to rise over political gains in times of disaster and said all should work hand-in-hand in such situations. “Political parties should learn from NGOs and voluntary organizations which do not look at any gain while extending relief during disasters,” he said.
When pointed out that Assam chief minister Gogoi had complained of discrimination by the Centre while responding to Assam floods vis-à-vis floods in Jammu and Kashmir, the union home minister refused to make any comment. “I don’t want to react to any such remark. I have myself asked the chief minister to submit a detailed memorandum as early as possible. Moreover, the central government is always with the state governments during situations of such crisis,” he said.