Saturday, April 1, 2023
North East

Centre declared Assam floods as ‘severe natural calamity’, providing funds for relief: Himanta


Guwahati, July 16: Centre has declared this year’s Assam floods, probably one of the worst in the state’s history, as a “severe natural calamity”, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here on Saturday.
The Union government is providing funds to mitigate the hardships being faced by the affected people, he said, adding that the Centre will bear 90% of the expenses for relief and rehabilitation.
Addressing a press conference after launching a scheme to provide a one-time payment of Rs 1,000 to students who have lost their textbooks in the deluge, he said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah has assured to provide “whatever is required to mitigate hardships of people and rebuild infrastructure”.
Assam has witnessed two waves of floods since April 6, with the second having been devastating, affecting 90 lakh people or one-third of the state’s population, while 195 people have lost their lives and 37 people are still missing.
“We had not witnessed a flood of this magnitude. Our priority was to evacuate affected people to relief camps, ensure their safety, provide medical aid and help them return home after the water receded. The task was challenging,” he said.
Over 98,500 people were evacuated, while 7,42, 250 people were displaced and had taken shelter in relief camps, Sarma said.
“For the first time, the state government has taken a step to provide a one-time aid of Rs 3,800 per family as ‘utensils grant’ to those who have returned home. Around 1,89,752 families have been identified and the amount has been transferred to all but 35,000 families whose bank details are yet to be processed,” he said.
The state government has also decided to provide Rs 1,000 as one-time grant to each student inmate of relief camps and 1,01,537 of them have been identified.
“An amount of Rs 10.10 crore has been disbursed from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the purpose and with today’s launch, the students will receive the amount in their bank accounts,” he said.
In addition to this, the Education Department will provide free textbooks to those students who have lost their books in the floods, Sarma said.
The state government has also provided a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of those who have died in the floods this year.
The ongoing assessment of damaged houses will continue till July 20, following which verification will be conducted by ministers and secretaries concerned who will be on the field from July 20 to 30, he said.
As per available data, 3,03,930 houses have been damaged, including 25,670 fully and 2,78,260 partially, with Cachar district having the highest number of 1,75,618 damaged houses.
The compensation was expected to be given by August 16 and an amount of Rs 400 crore would be disbursed for the purpose, he said.
“We are also trying to include a new category for providing compensation to those whose houses have been completely washed away which will be given from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund,” he said.
The assessment and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure such as embankments, roads, bridges, schools, government buildings and anganwadi centres will be done in August.
“An estimated Rs 1,000 crore may be required for the purpose for which we expect to get the approval by September,” he said.
“The situation is challenging but we have dealt with it in an organised manner. We have not involved any middlemen but the amount is being transferred directly to the beneficiaries,” Sarma said.
Asked if floods should be declared a ‘national problem’, the chief minister said that some social organisations have put forth such a demand but the Centre has already declared Assam floods as a “severe natural calamity” and the state government is receiving necessary funds to deal with the situation.
Asked whether a permanent solution to floods in the state is possible, he said that no scientist has so far said that the annual occurrence can be completely stopped but they “talk about mitigating or minimising or managing the flood”.
“The government is always trying to solve the problem but no permanent solution has been proposed yet,” he added. (PTI)