Announcing a Rs 500 crore package for flood-hit Assam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Centre will take measures to rebuild damaged infrastructure and wipe away the misery of the people.
After making an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas in Upper Assam with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Singh said, "I am making a commitment to provide a central ad hoc support of Rs 500 crore to the state government".
"People are facing considerable damage during these worst times and the Centre will do everything possible to wipe away their misery," Singh who represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha, said at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at the end of his day-long visit to the state.
"A central team has arrived today in the state to assess the exact nature of damage and immediately after they file their report, more financial support will be announced," he told reporters.
"The central team will make a detailed assessment of damage to crops, infrastructure and national highways and also for restoration of public buildings like schools, water supply systems and hospitals," he said.
Singh, Gandhi and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi made an aerial survey by helicopter of Majuli island, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts and the Kaziranga National Park.
He said that 77 persons had perished in the floods while five were missing and nearly twenty lakh affected.
"I am satisfied that the rescue and relief operations have been organised with speed," he said.
"For the next two days, our focus will be on rescuing people who are still marooned and extending relief to those who have been forced to leave their homes ... once we complete search and rescue, our focus will shift to restoration of damaged infrastructure," the prime minister said.
"Once the immediate relief work has taken place, we will pay more attention to medium and long-term problems of flood control, erosion and related issues," Singh said.
"We will ensure that adequate quantities of foodgrains and other essential commodities are available in the state and that agricultural seeds of the desired variety are also available," the prime minister said.
The Government of India, he said, would also extend assistance for reconstruction.
He said that 16 teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 71 boats were operating in the state to rescue marooned people, while the army had rescued more than 4000 affected people.
Army has deployed 752 personnel for rescue and relief operations and 400 persons have been transported to safety.
Twenty tonnes of relief materials were delivered by the Air Force, the prime minister said.
Nearly 4.84 lakh victims were in 768 relief camps while mobile rescue centres were in operation to provide succour to the people, Singh said.
He said that to ensure there was no shortage of essential food items, the government distributed over 10,000 quintals of food items. "And if necessary the Centre will send more."
He said "Work has been undertaken for restoration of damaged railway lines in the hill region of Dima Hasao district which is the lifeline of south Assam's Barak valley, Mizoram and Tripura."
After making the aerial survey, the prime minister held a high-level meeting with the state cabinet and top officials at the airport to review the latest situation.
Government sources said the chief minister submitted a detailed report to the prime minister about the exact nature of the damage and demanded central help to tide over the situation.
Singh and Gandhi left for Delhi after the meeting.