Taking steps to mitigate flood situation: Minister

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New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) The union government is taking all required steps to mitigate the flood situation in different parts of the country, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said on Thursday.

Responding to a calling attention motion in the Lok Sabha, Rijiju said: “Our government is taking steps that no one took before us.”

“It is a challenge we have accepted. If there is a natural disaster, we will build back better,” he said.

Referring to the flood situation in the northeastern states, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced a relief of Rs 2,000 crore.

“It is a sentimental issue. States sought help and so the Prime Minister with a big heart approved it, so that people of the northeast do not feel they are remote from Delhi,” he said.

Rijiju said Rs 400 crore in the fund was for improving water holding capacity of Brahmaputra for flood control in the future.

“For maintenance and repair of roads, Rs 1,200 crore has been allocated, and a team of experts has been formed for carrying out studies for long-term measures for flood control and Rs 100 crore has been allocated for that,” Rijiju said.

He said the first instalment of funds under State Disaster Response Fund has been given, and the second instalment will be subsumed in the Rs 2,000 crore.

A total of 203 districts in the country have been affected by floods resulting in 962 deaths, while 206 people have been injured and 23 others are missing. Some 43,344 houses have been damaged and over 2 lakh houses are partially damaged, Rijiju said.

“Everything we do, we do it from our heart. We do not do anything to show off,” Rijiju said.

Earlier, raising the issue, Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress accused the government of “sleeping” as several parts of the country were under floods.

“The government is sleeping like Kumbhkaran… even Kumbhkaran would wake up twice a year,” Gogoi said.

“CAG report that came a couple of weeks back has said the financial management of flood relief programmes is bad. This year, 80 people have died in Assam in floods… earlier so many people did not die in floods,” he said, accusing the government of poor management of the situation.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy accused the Centre of not giving funds to West Bengal, which has also been affected by floods.

“Prime Minister visited Gujarat, he visited Assam… Minister of State (Kiren Rijiju) visited Assam and Arunachal Pradesh… no one visited West Bengal, no package was announced for West Bengal, this is unfortunate,” he said.

“I am wondering if we are being made victims of political discrimination,” he said.

Rijiju denied Roy’s charge and said the state government needs to send a memorandum seeking funds for flood relief.

“There is no politics in natural calamity… it is a tragedy. Saying that the Prime Minister has abandoned West Bengal is not right. The state government needs to ask for the money… tell them to send a memorandum,” Rijiju said.

During Zero Hour, Biju Janta Dal (BJD) member Bhartruhari Mahtab raised the issue of a river water dispute tribunal and said Chhattisgarh should be stopped from setting up barrages over the Mahanadi river which were creating problems for Odisha.

He also said that large parts of Odisha had no water for irrigation.

Later, as Congress members wanted to ask questions and BJD members also wanted the Minister to answer Mahtab, some members trooped near the Speaker’s podium, after which the house was adjourned for an hour.

–IANS

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