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Rlys offers to help flood-hit in State

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, July 14 - The Railways has decided to come to the rescue of the beleaguered Assam government expressing its willingness to run extra trains, transport foodgrains and supply drinking water in the flood-affected areas of the State.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the flood situation in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and decided to extend all assistance to the flood-hit states. Prabhu later spoke to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over telephone.

Briefing newsmen, Minister of State for Railway Rajen Gohain said the meeting, attended by the Railway Board members and the directors general of Railway Protection Force and Railway Health Services, evaluated the situation and decided to wait for the states to make requests for assistance.

Sonowal and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu conveyed that they would consult and inform the Railways about their requirements, Gohain said. �The Railways is ready to supply if they ask for foodgrains,� he added.

While being ready to extend all assistance, including running extra trains, transporting foodgrains and supply water, the Railways specifically offered to supply Rail Neer drinking water bottles to the Assam government. �We have come to know from reports that there is scarcity of drinking water in flood-affected areas,� Gohain said.

The minister of state said that he has instructed Northeast Frontier Railway General Manager to meet Sonowal and find out the State�s requirement. �We have come to know that the State wants the Railway to run two extra pairs of trains but we are waiting for the request,� Gohain said.

On the long-pending demand of declaration of the flood and erosion problem as national problem, Gohain said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking some initiatives. �However, I don�t think that mere declaration of the floods as national problem will solve the problem,� he observed.

The Prime Minister is taking stock of the flood problem at his level and may soon direct all Central ministers to visit the flood-affected areas of the two states, he said.

Asked when the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge is expected to be completed, Gohain said the bridge is scheduled to be completed by December 25. Although all works have been completed in the Lakhimpur side, some works have been delayed in the Dibrugarh side. �We are targeting completion (of the bridge) by December 25,� he asserted.

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