Guj floods: Modi announces Rs 500 cr interim relief

Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced an interim assistance of Rs 500 crore for Gujarat where two districts continued to reel under floods.

Modi, who undertook an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, said 10 more IAF helicopters would be pressed into service for rescue and relief operations.

The central government will provide an immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state, and after a detailed survey has been conducted, it will give whatever is additionally required, he said in a statement after reviewing the situation.

“Everything possible will be done to help the farmers who suffer immensely due to floods,” Modi said.

He said though the state government has provided immediate relief to those who lost their kin in the deluge, an additional ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh would be extended to them from the PM’s relief fund. Those injured would be given Rs 50,000 by the Centre which would be over and above the assistance extended by the state government.

He said teams will be despatched by the Centre to assess the damage caused to property and standing crops in urban and rural areas at the earliest.

Heavy rains have caused floods in Banaskantha and Patan districts of Gujarat after which Army, India Air Force (IAF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been called out for rescue and relief operations.

After arriving here this evening, Modi chaired an hour-long meeting with state officials at the airport where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and senior officials of the state government were present.

Former chief minister Anandiben Patel also attended the meeting.

“A detailed presentation on the situation caused by heavy rains was shared with the prime minister,” official sources said.

Later Modi boarded a helicopter with Rupani for an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas.

Earlier in the day, Rupani, who was in New Delhi for the swearing-in of Ram Nath Kovind as President, met the prime minister at Parliament House and apprised him of the situation. The prime minister then decided to undertake an aerial survey to personally take stock of the situation in his home state, the PMO said.

During the last 24 hours, at least 12 talukas of Banaskantha, Patan and Sabarkantha districts have received over 200 mm of rainfall, a release issued by the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) said.

Dantiwada in Banaskantha remained the worst-hit, recording 463 mm rainfall, followed by Palanpur (380 mm), Vadgam (357 mm), Amirgadh (337 mm) and Lakhani (305 mm).

More than 1,000 people have been rescued and 46,000 shifted to safer locations from low lying areas, deputy chief minister Patel said.

“Four choppers of IAF are involved in rescue operations, while two columns of army are engaged in rescuing people stranded due to heavy rains,” Patel said.

Eight teams of NDRF have been deployed in Banaskantha district for rescue operations.

Elaborate arrangements are being made to supply food and drinking water to the people stranded in floods, he said.

The swollen Banas river passing through Banaskantha and Patan districts has flooded the villages and towns around it, health minister Shanker Chaudhary, who is stationed at Deesa to oversee the rescue operations, said.

As the rains took a break this morning, rescue operations in Banaskantha and Patan districts gained momentum, an official said.

Hundreds of people are still waiting to be shifted to safer places, as several parts of these districts are flooded, he said.

Three Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters have been deployed in Banskantha to evacuate those marooned as also to distribute food packets. Two columns of Indian Army, comprising about 200 personnel, have been pressed into service to rescue people.

Since morning, 113 people stranded in Shihori village of the district have been rescued and shifted to safer locations by the Indian Army personnel, who have been conducting the rescue operation using boats, said a release by the Defence PRO.

“One MI-17V5 took off from Deesa this morning and proceeded to Totana village and rescued 14 people stuck in the midst of raging flood water to safety,” Defence PRO Abhishek Matiman said.

The IAF is also air dropping food packets in the affected areas.

“Over 300 kgs of food packets were air dropped at Gugal, Jenal Varan and neighbouring villages to aid the people marooned since yesterday,” he added.