Guwahati/Shillong: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Khiren Rijiju on Saturday made aerial surveys in flood-hit Assam and Meghalaya and promised central help for the two states where at least 70 people have died so far.
The Union minister first made an aerial survey of Goalpara, Kamrup Rural and Dhubri districts of Assam and then the Garo Hills region of Meghalaya.
"I will hold a meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tomorrow and brief him about the situation in Assam and Meghalaya," Rijiju told reporters.
Singh would visit the two states on October 1 to take stock of the situation, the Arunachal Pradesh MP said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be announcing a package after his return from the United States, he said.
"Whatever is necessary in this natural calamity of Assam and Meghalaya will be done and they will get adequate financial and material support from the central government.
We will work as partners," he said.
There should be better and faster coordination between the central and state agencies in handling floods, besides strengthening of disaster forces, Rijiju said in Guwahati.
He said, "First, the information of the forecast and dissemination of impending danger or natural disaster should reach faster to the states and ground level officials. That we will ensure. Secondly, we need to strengthen our forces."
Asked specifically if he was happy at the way Assam government was handling the floods, he said "It is being done very well, but nothing is 100 per cent satisfactory because we always want it to be more efficient."
"It was very sudden. I want to have more coordination in the Ministry. The cloudburst and flash floods, which happened in northern part of Meghalaya and because of which this damage happened, could have been warned a little bit more earlier and more precisely," Rijiju said.
On strengthening of disaster response force, he said four NDRF teams were brought from other regions and the Union government was planning to have one more permanent centre in the North East apart from Guwahati.
"We'll decide that on the basis of location. Guwahati will take care of its surroundings and we'll decide one more location very soon," the Union minister said.
Currently, 12 teams of NDRF have been deployed for the floods in Assam and Meghalaya, each comprising 50 members.
On assessment of damage in Assam, he said, "We have received the preliminary report of the damage, but we are yet to assess the total extent in terms of cost."
The rescue operation was over and it was now time for operation for relief and the process of rehabilitation would begin very soon, Rijiju said. The flood situation in Assam remained grim with 40 persons losing their lives so far. Nearly 10 lakh people were affected in the state.
In Meghalaya, where over 30 people have died so far, Rijiju said once the assessment of damage was complete, the officials would review the magnitude of the situation and start rebuilding exercise.
Garo Hills commissioner PW Ingty briefed Rijiju on the flood and landslides that hit the state in the past one week during a meeting held in the presence of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Tura Lok Sabha MP PA Sangma.
Ingty said the damage to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore has been assessed so far, which included Garo hills and several parts of Khasi hills. Rijiju assured them saying he would be actively involved in overseeing the restoration works and his concerns were true as he belongs to the region.
The chief minister sought involvement of the Army in restoration of the major bridges in Mendipathar in North Garo Hills and Krishnai bridge in Assam's Goalpara district.
The Chief Minister also undertook an aerial survey of the worst hit areas of West Garo Hills and visited a relief camp at Tikrikilla.
Interacting with officials, the chief minister asked them to ensure that there is no outbreak of any disease.