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PM conducts aerial survey of flood-hit Kerala, announces Rs 500 cr relief fund

New Delhi :Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reviewed the flood situation in rain-battered Kerala at a high-level meeting in Kochi.
“The prime minister is reviewing the flood situation in Kerala at a high-level meeting. @CMOKerala,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
ANI reports that he has announced a flood relief of Rs 500 crore for the flood-affected state and an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of those killed in the floods.
Modi, after an overnight stay in the state capital, left for Kochi for the aerial survey and the review meeting to get a first-hand knowledge of the enormity of the mayhem caused by the southwest monsoon.
The Prime Minister, who flew from Delhi on Friday night, made an aerial assessment of the damage caused by the floods. However, the survey was done only in some of the affected areas due to bad weather.
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have caused the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over three lakh people forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
The aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains was initially called off due to bad weather.
Following the cancellation, Modi chaired a meeting with Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials and witnessed a video presentation of the widespread destruction across the state.
“The Prime Minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced on August 12. He assured the state government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines would be provided, as requested,” an official statement said.
Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Insurance companies were also directed to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes. Directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojna for farmers.
The statement said villagers, whose houses have been destroyed in the floods, would be provided Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin houses on priority.
“The Prime Minister complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation. He observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority,” the statement said.
The disaster has triggered an unprecedented rescue and relief operation led by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy along with teams of National Disaster Response Force involving about 1,300 personnel and 435 boats.
Thirty eight helicopters have been deployed, apart from 20 aircraft used for ferrying resources.
The Army has deployed 10 columns and 10 teams of Engineering Task Force (ETFs) involving around 790 personnel.
The Navy has provided 82 teams, the Coast Guard 42 along with two helicopters and two ships.
Five Companies of paramilitary troops have also been deployed for rescue and relief measures.
Nearly, 7,000 persons have been rescued since August 9 and some 900 given medical assistance.
Meanwhile, rains lashing several parts of the state since this morning is causing concern as it could hamper the rescue and relief operations.
Chengannur in Pathnamthitta, Chalakudy in Thrissur and various parts of Ernakulam district are among the worst hit where rescue efforts are likely to be concentrated on Saturday.
Since airlifting is the only option in some remote areas, where people are marooned since the past four days, the state government has sought more helicopters for airlifting them, chief minister said.
Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian pleaded for more help and said thousands of people were stranded in houses without food and water, if immediate steps are not taken to evacuate them, their life will be in danger.

“For the past five days people are without food in many places. We urgently need food, medicines, water. People need to be airlifted urgently. Evacuation by Army, Navy and Air Force are urgently needed,” Cherian told a television channel.
Leader of Opposition in Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the government machinery has to be properly coordinated to ensure all the needy get help.
As per information from the control room of the State Disaster Management, since August 8, 194 persons have lost their lives so far and 36 are missing.
Over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.
The maximum deaths have been reported from Thrissur (42), Idukki (37) and Malappuram (35).
According to the latest weather report, heavy rains accompanied with gusty wind speed reaching 60 kmph is expected in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam districts.
The state is facing its worst flood in 100 years with 80 dams opened and all rivers in spate.