New Delhi: A delegation of ministers from Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested him to declare the recent floods in the state as “national calamity” and also ensure smooth supply of food grains and other essential items.
The delegation, led by state’s Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister putting forth several demands to help the state government which was grappling with the worst deluge in over 100 years. “The Prime Minister was very positive and assured us complete support to overcome the crisis,” senior state minister Ali Mohammed Sagar, who was a part of the delegation, told reporters here.
The delegation requested the Prime Minister to declare the tragedy in the state as “national calamity” so that other benefits including more grants from the Centre and soft loans from financial institutions could be availed.
In the absence of any guidelines on declaring any disaster as national calamity, the Centre decides on case to case basis taking into account intensity and magnitude of the calamity, level of relief assistance, capacity of the state government to tackle the problem, the alternatives and the flexibility available within the plan to provide succour an relief.
Sagar said the delegation requested the Prime Minister for immediate relief of Rs five lakh each to people whose houses had been damaged in the floods.
He said the state government had started distributing 60,000 metric tonnes food grains among the people from today. “From today onwards, we have started distributing it among the people. We have requested the Centre for more food grains and the Prime Minister has assured us the same and even more, if the state government could have the storage facilities,” Sagar said.
He conceded that there was anger among the public and said “it was natural. After all they have been trapped in their homes for nearly six days with no relief coming their way. The anger is justified but at the same point, there was little we could have done. “Our entire state machinery was submerged in water. It was Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and I who started a mini-secretariat from Hari Nivas along with a handful of officers. We got our act together and now the relief operation is in full swing,” Sagar said.