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Gujarat flood relief inadequate: Sonia
July 04, 2005 22:55 IST
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Monday that there were complaints of inadequate flood relief in Gujarat and asked the state government to pay cash doles for 15 days and speed up rehabilitation in affected areas.
"I have been receiving complaints that cash doles are not being given. The state government should ensure that money reaches the people," Sonia said as she undertook a whirlwind tour of Vadodara, the worst hit area in the recent rain-induced floods.
Sonia was on a day-long tour of flood-hit Gujarat.
The United Progressive Alliance chairperson visited relief camps and slum areas along the swollen Vishwamitri river, stopping at several places to interact with the flood victims.
A major portion of the relief package would be spent on rebuilding houses of slum dwellers that were washed way in the floods, she said.
Sonia and defence minister Pranab Mukherjee undertook an aerial survey of Vadodara, Anand, Kheda and Ahmedabad districts to have a first-hand account of the flood situation.
Expressing his dissatisfaction over relief and rehabilitation work, he told reporters in Ahmedabad that "help has not reached many parts of the state.
"Even the assessment of damage has not been done as several areas are still cut-off," he said.
Asked whether he blamed the state government for the delay, Mukherjee said "I am not here to make a value judgement. Villages are marooned and many areas are still inaccessible."
"No doubt the magnitude of destruction is huge and unprecedented. Three-fourths of the land in the state has been affected. We wanted to land in some villages but could not do so as conditions were not suitable," he said.
The armed forces were dropping food packets in marooned villages and arrangements were also being made to provide cooked food to those affected, Mukherjee said.
In Ahmedabad, Gujarat law minister Ashok Bhatt briefed Mukherjee and Sonia on the situation. State revenue minister Kaushik Patel thanked the Centre for sanctioning an immediate relief package of Rs 500 crore and lauded the armed forces for their swift help.
The air force dropped 130 tonnes of food in the flood-hit regions and 12 helicopters are doing sorties to rescue stranded people, official sources said.
The state government has also deployed 500 medical teams in affected areas and steps are being taken to prevent spread of epidemic, they said.