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Karnataka, Andhra seek flood relief
Published on 6 Oct. 2009 12:49 AM IST
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Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh Monday sought immediate central assistance of Rs.16,000 crore for rehabilitation work as large parts of the states were hit by torrential rain and flash floods that killed over 240 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The demand came as Congress president and United Progressive Chairperson Sonia Gandhi made an aerial survey of the havoc wrought by the rain that started Wednesday as a result of deep depression in the Bay of Bengal. Of the massive assistance sought by the two neighbouring states, Karnataka wants Rs.10,000 crore and Andhra Rs.6,000 crore immediately in the states’ worst floods in over a century. The rain and flood have killed 195 people in Karnataka and left around a million homeless as over 200,000 houses have been fully or partially damaged. In Andhra Pradesh, the toll is 49 with 400,000 homeless as about 70,000 houses were damaged in five districts. About 500 villages were inundated impacting oer 1.8 million people in these districts. Of the 15 districts affected in Karnataka, heavy loss of life and destruction to property was in the northern districts of Bijapur, Bagalkot, Raichur and Bellary. Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart K. Rosaiah presented separate memorandums to Gandhi after she visited the two states to see the trail of destruction left by the rain and floods. Gandhi, who was accompanied by union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, is reported to have assured the two chief ministers of all possible central help. Rain has stopped and flood water is receding in the affected districts in north Karnataka. However, there was fresh threat of massive floods in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada city and hundreds of villages in Krishna and Guntur districts with water level in the Prakasam barrage across the Krishna river reaching the maximum level. The inflows in the barrage have crossed a record million cusecs, inundating parts of Vijayawada, one of the state’s biggest cities with 1.2 million people, located on the banks of the river. Thousands of people are still being evacuated from villages downstream. The weakening embankments at few points along the river course have raised the spectre of inundation of vast areas and authorities have mobilised 300,000 sand bags to strengthen the embankments. The water level at the barrage, the last irrigation project across Krishna river before it falls in the Bay of Bengal, stands at 21.5 feet. Though authorities said there was no threat to the barrage, the weakening embankments at a few points were worrying. The barrage has never faced such massive inflows in its history and officials termed it the worst floods in Krishna river in 100 years. “There is three to four feet water in some areas along the river in Vijayawada city and this may go up to six to seven feet later in the day. We have already moved out of the area near the river,” Suresh Kumar, a resident, told IANS. About 200,000 people in areas within about 2 km of the river bank have been moved to safer places. Villages near Vijayawada along the river bank have also come under water and 40,000 people shifted to relief camps. Krishna District Collector Piyush Kumar said army, navy and the National Disaster Response Force were ready to rescue people with 100 boats and six helicopters in the district. Vehicular traffic on Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway came to a standstill as the highway was under water at several points. However, receding water levels at Srisailam dam and in the tributaries of Krishna have provided some respite to Kurnool and Mahbubnagar, where 1.1 million people have been affected. Kurnool had been submerged two days ago and is still under four to five feet of water. In Mahbubnagar too, many people are still trapped in flood waters. Karnataka has offered Rs.100,000 as relief to the family of the dead. Andhra Pradesh has doubled the amount from to Rs. 200,000. According to Revenue and Relief Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao “There is no official record of a disaster of such magnitude. “Experts have told us that such calamity occurs once in 1,000 years,” he added. The Andhra Pradesh government urged the centre to declare the floods a national calamity. This will enable the state to avail assistance under the National Calamity Contingency Fund. Yeddyurappa earlier Monday had a meeting with ministers and senior officials in Bellary and announced that the government would construct 200,000 houses, half of them within one year. Over 350,000 people were taking shelter in the 1,211 relief camps set up across the districts. Another 300,000 to 400,000 people were staying in other make-shift places, schools, marriage halls and temples, H.V. Parashwanath, secretary of the state disaster management committee told IANS in Bangalore.

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