GUWAHATI, July 30 - After taking stock of the damage caused by floods in the State, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today termed the problem as extremely grave, but refrained from announcing any relief package from the Centre for the affected.
Singh, however, directed the State government to spend from the Rs 620 crore fund available with the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).
Floods have so far claimed 26 lives in the State, besides affecting nearly 36 lakh people in the last one week. Almost all the districts of Assam have been more or less affected.
�The scale of devastation is much more than I thought it to be. I have asked the State government to spend liberally to mitigate the woes of the flood-affected population and the Centre will extend all possible help,� said the Home Minister after he, accompanied by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh, did an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas in Morigaon, Nagaon and Kaziranga National Park.
Addressing media-persons here this evening, Singh vouched for a long-term solution to the perennial problem of flood and erosion and said that an inter-ministerial team will soon visit the State to assess the damage.
He said, �The State government has been asked to prepare an action plan to prevent recurrence of such ordeal.�
Singh, during his visit to one of the relief camps in Morigaon today, also interacted with the inmates, who according him, have expressed satisfaction over the supply of relief materials.
On declaring the problem of flood and erosion as a national calamity, Singh said, �Merely declaring it as a national disaster or calamity would not serve the purpose. What we need is a roadmap to prevent such recurring ordeal of the people of Assam.�
Replying to a query, he also said that the existing embankments will have to be strengthened and repair works will have to be done wherever necessary.
Singh also appealed the non-government organisations to come forward to help the people in distress.
�The NDRF and the SDRF are doing good work and so far 6,000 affected persons have been rescued. The NDRF has pressed into service as many as 60 boats for rescue work,� the Home Minister added.
It may be mentioned that the State government will give ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in flood.
Earlier, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also submitted a memorandum to the Home Minister seeking assistance from the Centre for the flood-affected people.
Sonowal also told media-persons that the State government has decided to bear all the medical expenses of one Binita Dutta, a cancer patient, who has also been severely hit by flood.