Families whose houses were destroyed by last week’s severe cyclonic storm Nisarga in Maharashtra are set to get up to Rs 1.5 lakh assistance from the state government to rebuild their homes. The government is also likely to extend two month of free ration supplies to all families in coastal areas ravaged by the cyclone.
Even as the field assessment to survey the extent of the damage caused by Nisarga is in process, the state Cabinet on Tuesday decided to relax relief assistance norms as a special case to help those impacted, said sources.
With monsoon in sight, it was also decided not to wait for the Centre’s assistance under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) to arrive. The state will dive into its own kitty for now.
With the storm leaving behind a massive trail of destruction in southern Raigad and adjoining areas in Ratnagiri district in particular, the government is faced with the daunting challenge of rebuilding these coastal districts.
Under prevalent NDRF norms, an assistance of up to Rs 91,000 is available for homes completely destroyed by a cyclone. But on Tuesday, the Cabinet decided to hike this assistance to Rs 1.5 lakh, said officials. Similarly, while norms allow Rs 10,000 aid for partially destroyed homes, the state plans to increase this up to Rs 25,000 in such cases.
A preliminary estimate indicated that around 5 lakh houses were damaged, either fully or partially, in Raigad alone. On his visit to Raigad last week, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced an immediate assistance of Rs 100 crore to the district, while declaring plans to provide assistance over and above prevailing norms. The government has also released an immediate assistance of Rs 25 crore for restoration activities in Ratnagiri district.
Norms for assistance in damage to agricultural land will also be relaxed, said sources. At the Cabinet meeting, ministers allegedly pushed for doubling the compensation amount. While NDRF norms advocate an assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare, a proposal to hike this to Rs 50,000 a hectare was discussed with some ministers reportedly pressing for further enhancement of compensation.
In Raigad alone, the cyclonic winds are believed to have damaged over 5,000 hectares of farm lands. Moreover, while established norms allow Rs 6,000 aid for kuccha houses, ministers wanted this to be hiked to at least Rs 10000, said officials.
At the meeting, senior ministers insisted on the need to quickly restore power supply in disconnected villages. The gusty cyclonic winds had cast aside thousands of electric poles in Raigad and Ratnagiri. Officials from the Maharashtra State Energy Distribution Company Limited have said that a full restoration of supply lines may take over a month.
A proposal to build “cyclone-proof” homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana and other government-sponsored housing schemes in affected villages was also discussed, said officials.
Sources said Uddhav is expected to make a formal announcement regarding the assistance package on Wednesday or Thursday following another round of discussions with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and senior leaders from both Congress and NCP.
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