Central team to visit flood-hit Kerala in 10 days: Kiren Rijiju

New Delhi: Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said that the Centre has approved Rs. 80 crore for flood relief in Kerala and added that an inter-ministerial team will visit the state’s flood-hit areas within next 10 days.

The inter-ministerial team has been constituted and it would have officials from NITI Aayog and the Finance Ministry, said the Minister during a reply in the Lok Sabha on the drought and flood situation in the country.

“We have already deployed Army, Navy and other central armed forces in Kerala and the state government and the ministry are jointly working in the flood-hit areas,” said Rijiju.

Responding to an allegation from some MPs that the Central government has not released funds, the Minister said it is not true, adding that there is a misunderstanding with regard to the Rs. 80-crore fund released for the state.

Rijiju said that within 10 days a team headed by the Joint Secretary from Home Ministry — comprising members of NITI Aayog, Finance Ministry and other officials — will visit Kerala.

Assuring that justice will be done to the state, Rijiju said: “Monsoon hit three days in advance, resulting in unprecedented rains in Kerala and other parts. No state would be discriminated against in release of funds. There is a quantum jump in Central assistance.”

He also mentioned that compensation for the families of flood victims has been raised from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh.

The Minister further said that 21 states and Union Territories have reported damages and losses due to floods and will receive due assistance.

The Minister’s claims were challenged by Congress MP K.C. Venugopal, who said the promises made during the Okhi cyclone were never met.

“We are providing immediate relief to people who need it. Disaster management is a priority for the government,” said Rijiju.

Patting his back, Rijiju said: “I don’t want to appreciate myself but I have also been designated as ‘Disaster Champion’ for the Asia region by the United Nations for my efforts.”

He said the funds for State Disaster Response Forces (SDRF) will be allocated as per the norms.

Venugopal also wanted the Minister to clarify on the funds which would be released for flood relief in the second instalment.

Another MP Suresh Kodikunnil sought to know about the measures taken for Kuttanadu, which was the worst-hit region following the floods in Kerala.

The Minister said he has done an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas and visited the relief camps. “I have instructed senior officials to immediately provide basic facilities to the victims.”

He, however, admitted that some areas need more assistance and it will be provided soon.