New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday allocated Rs.2.32 billion from the Prime Minister’s Calamity Relief Fund for flood relief in Bihar, where 120 people have died, and where epidemics are a distinct danger.
The prime minister’s directions came after “a prolonged discussion in the union cabinet on the flood situation in different parts of the country”, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.
He said 20 states were facing the fury of floods and Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal are the worst hit. Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra are also affected by floods, as also are Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
“Over 1,500 people have lost their lives and the floods have caused vast damage to crop and cattle. The Prime Minister has called for a detailed report which will come up for full discussion next cabinet meeting.”
Dasmunsi said: “Rs.5.5 billion has already been given to Bihar from the Calamity Relief Fund. Its second instalment was not released only because the state had not sent the utilisation certificate. But considering the urgency the prime minister ordered further release of funds without waiting for the certificate.”
In Bihar, 12 million residents of 6,000 villages have been affected due to flash floods.
Later, top leaders of Bihar’s opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) including Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Minister of State for Water Resources Jai Prakash Narain Yadav addressed the media on the prime minister’s initiative.
They said the state government led by Nitish Kumar had failed in utilising the amount of Rs.5.5 billion.
Also, an amount of Rs.1.14 billion for 2006-07 and Rs.1.18 billion for the current financial year were lying with the central government as the state has not sent utilisation certificates.
Meanwhile, the water resources ministry called for setting up a Flood Control Commission “to look at flood control measures taken by the state before the onset of floods”, said Yadav.
He said the state had sought central funds for 400 flood control schemes from the ministry.
The schemes included strengthening the check-dams and barrages. But work had commenced only for 102 of them and of this the state has reported the completion of only 79 works, Yadav said.