Patna, Aug. 26: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today conducted an aerial survey of the state's flood-hit areas and announced an immediate relief of Rs 500 crore while promising every possible assistance to Bihar, which has put up a demand of Rs 10,787 crore to tackle the devastation.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi accompanied the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Modi also announced Rs 2 lakh as additional compensation from his relief fund to the kin of those who lost their lives in the floods, and Rs 50,000 to those who have been left injured. The state is already providing Rs 4 lakh to the families of each of the deceased.
The current floods have brought widespread devastation in 21 districts, killing at least 440 people and affecting around 1.71 crore people, of whom 8.54 lakh persons have been evacuated to safer areas.
Modi, who arrived a little after 9am at Chunapur air base near Purnea town, embarked on the aerial survey of flood-ravaged Seemanchal region, comprising Purnea, Araria, Katihar and Kishanganj districts.
Returning from the aerial survey, the Prime Minister held a meeting at which apart from Nitish and Sushil, senior officials were present, among them chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, principal secretary, disaster management, Pratyaya Amrit, and principal secretary, road construction, Amrit Lal Meena.
The chief secretary made a detailed presentation about the devastation while Nitish pointed out that this time floodwaters have ravaged areas that were previously unaffected.
A senior official present at the meeting told The Telegraph: "We have sought Rs 10,787 crore from the Centre to tide over the flood havoc. Of this Rs 4,110 crore will go towards compensating individuals for the losses suffered by them."
"Around Rs 2,800 crore will be needed by the water resources department to repair and restore damaged canals and embankments, while Rs 2,200 crore will go to the road construction department and rural works department to rebuild state highways, district roads and rural roads, many of which have been completely washed out. Agriculture and animal husbandry losses have so far been pegged at Rs 1,580 crore," the official said.
Modi asked the chief secretary to submit a memorandum of demands on flood compensation within one week. He added that a central team will be sent immediately after that to assess the losses.
"Wide-scale damage to infrastructure has happened in the floods. We have already directed the ministry of road transport and highways to take adequate steps to repair the roads. The Centre will provide all possible help to the state government to restore electricity infrastructure that has been damaged," the Prime Minister said.
Modi revealed that he discussed the Bihar floods with Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba during his ongoing visit to our country, and got a positive response over developing a joint "flood management system".
Modi told the officials that he had seen the video of a bridge collapse on National Highway 327E (which connects Araria to Galgalia on the tri-junction of Bihar, Bengal and Nepal) in which three persons lost their lives, and realised the ferocity of the floods. The video had gone viral on social media a few days ago.
The Opposition scoffed at Modi's announcement of Rs 500 crore for relief, pointing out that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had sanctioned Rs 1,000 crore interim relief during the Kosi deluge of 2008.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who will hold a "BJP Bhagao" rally tomorrow, said: "Narendra Modi has cheated Bihar by giving just Rs 500 crore. Nitish should return it." His son, leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, wondered what benefit will accrue to the state from such a "small amount".
"When the UPA government was at the Centre, it gave Rs 1,000 as interim relief to Bihar in the wake of the 2008 Kosi disaster. Now that there is a BJP government at the Centre and in Bihar, why has it given such a small amount for relief? What will happen from it," Tejashwi said.