Following is the text of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s statement to the media after an aerial survey of disaster affected areas of Uttarakhand:
“Earlier today, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA and I undertook an aerial survey of the rain and flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand. We saw for ourselves the large scale devastation that has been caused in the State. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have suffered injury or loss of property in this huge tragedy.
Assessing the magnitude of the losses, both in terms of lives lost and houses destroyed, or the damage to buildings, roads and other infrastructure, is an exercise that will take some more time. The priority for the authorities at the moment is to rescue the stranded and provide urgently needed succor to those most in need of it.
What Chairperson UPA and I saw today was most distressing. While the most recent estimates put the death toll at 102, it is feared that loss of lives could eventually be much higher. So far, more than 10,000 people have been rescued and are being provided food, clothing and shelter. Many persons still remain stranded. The maximum damage has been in Kedarnath and its vicinity.
The immediate need is for rescue and relief operations and the Government will not spare any effort in this regard.
The Central and State Governments have deployed all possible resources to deal with the immediate aftermath of the ghastly tragedy. About 5500 Jawans and Officers of the Army, 3000 men of the Border Roads Organisation and 600 ITBP personnel are engaged in relief and rescue efforts. Thirteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed. The Air Force has deployed 18 helicopters and a C-130 aircraft. Private helicopters have also been engaged by the State Government.
The Central and State Governments will continue to work in close coordination to ensure that every possible effort is made not only to provide immediate relief to the affected persons but also to help them reconstruct their lives.
Ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of those who have lost their lives and Rs. 50,000 each to those who have been injured will be provided from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Further, we will also provide from the PMNRF ex-gratia assistance of Rs.1 lakh each to those whose houses have been completely destroyed and Rs. 50,000 each to those whose houses have been damaged.
I have decided to provide an amount of Rs.1000 crore to Uttarakhand for disaster relief, of which Rs. 145 crore is being released immediately. I have also directed all Central Agencies to render all possible assistance in their domain to the State.”