PM Modi announces interim relief of Rs 500 crore for Kerala, says rescue operations top priority

The PM took off for an aerial survey of the flood damage after the meeting with the chief minister. Earlier, the aerial survey had to be suspended for some time after rain forced his helicopter to return to the base.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2018 19:04 IST
Modi in Kerala,Kerala floods,Kerala flood
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducts an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in Kerala on Saturday, August 18, 2018.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced an interim relief of Rs 500 crore for flood-hit Kerala after a high-level meeting with state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi and said that rescuing those stranded was the top priority.

At the meeting to review the flood damage, Vijayan said the state has so far a staggering suffered a loss of Rs 25000 crore and sought an immediate relief of 2,000 crore.

Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), a Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) statement said.

The PM took off for an aerial survey of the flood damage after the meeting with the chief minister. Earlier, the aerial survey had to be suspended for some time after rain forced his helicopter to return to the base.

More than 200 people have lost their lives since August 8 in the worst natural calamity to hit Kerala in a century. Despite a massive relief and rescue operation across the state involving the three arms of the defence forces, the Coast Guard, NDRF and other agencies, many people are still marooned.

“NDRF teams, companies of BSF, CISF and RAF are deployed in the state for rescue and relief operations.

The Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard are assisting operations in different parts of Kerala. Rescuing those who are trapped remains the topmost priority,” Modi tweeted.

The Prime Minister, who reached Thiruvananthapuram Friday night after attending former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral in New Delhi, reiterated that Kerala would be given all possible help to fight the calamity.

“Centre is providing all possible assistance to Kerala. This includes financial assistance, providing food grains and medicines. We have asked the NHAI, NTPC, PGCIL to render all possible assistance and cater to basic infrastructure needs in the wake of the floods,” Modi said in another tweet.

The prime minister’s visit comes a week after Union home minister Rajnath Singh visited the state for an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas

More rain this morning has sparked fears the rescue and relief operations could be hit.

Chengannur in Pathnamthitta, Chalakudy in Thrissur and various parts of Ernakulam district are among the worst hit where rescue efforts are likely to be concentrated on Saturday.

Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian pleaded for more help and said thousands of people were stranded in houses without food and water, if immediate steps are not taken to evacuate them, their life will be in danger.

“For the past five days people are without food in many places. We urgently need food, medicines, water. People need to be airlifted urgently. Evacuation by Army, Navy and Air Force are urgently needed,” Cherian told a television channel this morning.

With many people still stranded in different places, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala once again said that the army should be given complete charge of relief operations.

“It is high time to hand over relief operations to the army,” Chennithala reiterated.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 14:29 IST