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Flood damage large-scale: Central assessment team

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TNN Oct 1, 2011, 08.56AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Wrapping up its visit to flood-affected districts in Orissa, a 10-member central team on Friday said it would soon submit its report to the Union government.

"The state government's requirements may be more. But our norms are quite conservative," team leader O P Mahey, who is a joint secretary in the ministry of home affairs, told media persons, emerging from a meeting with chief minister Naveen Patnaik and other government functionaries.

The state government has asked for Rs 3265 crore central assistance to tackle the twin floods that hit the state in September. While it had sought Rs 2121 crore aid for the flood in Mahanadi river earlier this month, it has demanded Rs 1144 crore for the flood in Brahmani, Baitarani, Budhabalang and Subarnarekha rivers.

The state government has over the years expressed serious displeasure with the quantum of central aid during calamities. Indicating that the amount of assistance could be more this time, the central team described the extent of damage in the floods as "huge" and "largescale".

Pointing out largescale crop loss, team member Sudhir Saxena, a senior consultant with the ministry of drinking water and sanitation, said a large number of houses were washed away and roads and embankments damaged in the current floods. He, however, said the team was satisfied with the relief operation, maintaining that not a single complaint was received by them during the field visits.

"They (the central team) have expressed their satisfaction with the relief work and assured us they will do their best to help the state," special relief commissioner Pradipta Mohapatra said.

A delegation from the Opposition Congress, comprising OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik, Union minister Srikant Jena and senior leaders Nalinikanta Mohanty and R C Khuntia, however, told the central team that the flood was "manmade". "It was a manmade flood. The government was not at all prepared," Patnaik said. "The preparedness level was low. Adequate chuda (flattened rice), rice and dry food was not stocked," Jena alleged.

Revenue minister S N Patro disagreed that the flood was manmade, but admitted that dry food stock was proving insufficient and had to be procured from outside the state.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, meanwhile, directed the collectors of the flood-hit districts to complete distribution of assistance to the victims by October 15. He further asked the secretaries of works, water resources, rural development, health and family welfare, fisheries and animal resources development and agriculture to visit flood-hit areas and ensure expeditious restoration and reconstruction work connected to their departments.