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Even as Nagaland battles one of the worst natural calamities in recent memory, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home, Kiren Rijiju Sunday assured the State government of all possible help from the Centre.
Rijijiu, who arrived here from Delhi to take stock of the situation, held a brief meeting with chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Urban Development minister Metsubo Jamir, PHE minister Jacob Zhimomi and Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) officials at the airport lobby.
During the meeting, Rijiju was shown visuals of the massive damage caused across the State by NSDMA officer on special duty Johny Ruangmei.
Thereafter, as scheduled, the Union minister, along with Rio and senior officials took off by chopper for an aerial survey of affected areas in Kohima and Meluri-Kiphire, besides Doyang dam to see rise of water level that has affected downstream areas Golaghat. However, barely few minutes after taking off, the entourage returned as the chopped could not land in Kohima due to bad weather.
Rijiju then held a meeting with Rio and other State government officials at Niathu Resort, during which he assured all possible help to the State to overcome the current crisis from Union home and defence ministries.
Stressing on basic commodities reaching far-flung areas, Rijiju said Indian Air Force would be kept on standby. He said he was visibly surprised to learn about the magnitude of devastation in Kohima.
The MoS announced that an inter-ministerial team would be constituted and sent to Nagaland within a week’s time to prepare correct projection of the financial requirement.
“Very soon we will send the team to Nagaland and, once they submit the report, relief would be released immediately,” he added.
Admitting that problems faced in hilly areas were more acute, Rijiju assured of raising the State’s issue with the next Finance Commission.
Explaining that the Home ministry’s role was limited to rescue and relief as per Finance Commission guidelines, he further assured of following up with other line ministries for restoration and re-building works.
He also appreciated the State government for pressing into service the entire State machinery and doing its best in combating the calamities.
Rio expressed his gratefulness to Rijiju for showing his concern by personally visiting Nagaland and assuring that Delhi had not forgotten the State.
Stating that restoration was the main challenge, the chief minister sought additional Central fund to start restoration works immediately. Rio also urged Rijiju to provide ex-gratia to the kin of 10 persons who died in the disaster.
He informed Rijiju that PDA legislators had decided to contribute one month’s salary, while all party workers were giving donations. He also appealed to all government servants to contribute voluntarily to help the government deal with the disaster.
Nagaland DGP, T. John Longkumer; state Home secretary, Rovilatuo Mor, Commissioner of Police, Limasunep Jamir, DC Dimapur Sushil Kumar Patel and others were also present in the meeting.
Later, addressing the media at Naithu Resort after Rijiju left for New Delhi, Mor said the MoS had assured to take up Nagaland’s situation on a priority basis.
Mor, who is also holding additional charge of NSDMA, said most of the district headquarters, towns and villages were cut-off due to massive landslides, mudslides and sinking of roads, adding that 10 lives had been lost so far.
He said some emergency commodities had been supplied to Kiphire, which was completely cut off from the rest of the State for last two weeks, with assistance from Association of Offroaders Nagaland.
Despite efforts being made to air-drop commodities for the last three consecutive days, Mor said the same could not be achieved due to bad weather in Kiphire district. He added that after two days, essential commodities were dropped at Tobu on Sunday. Mor also assured that medical teams would assess the situation at the earliest.
Nagaland seeks ‘special package’ to rebuild, reconstruct
NSDMA OSD Johnny Ruangmei, who too addressed the press meet, said the State government had sought “special package” for reconstruction.
Ruangmei said a request was made to Rijiju to extend assistance to Nagaland through “special package” as restoration and re-building of infrastructure under National Disaster Response Fund as the fund was “very limited”.
A verbal request was also made to High Level Committee through the MoS to recommend allied ministries to sanction “special packages” to rebuild and reconstruct damaged infrastructure.
Headed by Union Home minister, the HLC has Union Finance and Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare ministers as members.
Ruangmei said the State government would send a “memorandum” for the same. He said Rijiju was also briefed about the immediate requirements of the State like food grains, additional helicopter and additional package.
With NSDMA identifying 103 locations has having incurred “major damages”, Ruangmei said Rs 100 crore (rough estimate) was required immediately. He added that Nagaland would need “not less than” Rs. 300 crore to rebuild the damage.
Medical supplies, team yet to reach calamity-hit areas
Meanwhile, though the ongoing inclement weather condition had entered second week, the State government was yet to dispatch medical supplies and medical teams to affected areas.
When asked whether medical teams had been sent to the affected areas to ascertain possible disease outbreak, the OSD replied in negative and cited landslides and mudslides, which had cut off towns and villages, as primary reasons.
Ruangmei admitted that the present medical stock in Kohima would last only for three days. He added that health & family welfare department was looking into the matter and ensure that medical teams were dispatched to far-flung affected areas.~NagalandPost