Relief work begins in India's flood-affected Gujarat

NEW DELHI, Jul 4, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Relief work in India's flood- affected Gujarat state began on Monday after the week-long rains came to a halt in most parts of the state.

Torrential rains in the state have left more than 150 people dead, besides rendering some 4,000,00 people shelterless.

"Relief work is now in full swing. Rain has almost stopped completely in most of the worst-hit areas. We hope the situation will improve now considerably," Hasmukh Adhia, principal secretary to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi told Xinhua from the state capital Ahmedabad over telephone on Monday.

"Another positive thing is that we have been able to restore physical communication with all the villages, which was snapped due to heavy rains in the last one week," Hasmukh Adhia said.

Considering the gravity of the situation, the central government has announced a financial package to the tune of 50 billion rupees (1.15 million US dollars) to enable the state government to provide relief to the affected people.

This is in addition to 2.6 billion rupees, which the state government has allocated from its coffers.

Army personnel were leading the relief effort while Central Reserve Police Force personnel are also reaching the affected areas.

Officials of the state administration, however, are yet to reach many of the interior parts of the state where people remained without power supply and telephone connectivity.

The life in the industrial city of Vadodra was also returning to normalcy with the express highway linking Vadodara with Ahmedabad opened partially for traffic while the Western Railway ran two special trains from Mumbai to Vadodara.

The week-long heavy rains in this India's second most- industrialized state have cost the industry heavily. According to India's Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), the industry lost business to the tune of 1000 billion rupees (23 billion US dollars) in the wake of fury in the state.