Opposition slams govt for delay in flood relief (Lead)
Mumbai, Aug 8 (IANS) Slamming the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena coalition government for delays, the Maharashtra opposition has demanded handing over the flood rescue operations to the army and an immediate Rs 4,000 crore central assistance for relief and rehabilitation measures.
Speaking to mediapersons, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar also announced here on Thursday that all party MLAs and MPs would donate one month's salary towards flood relief.
"This is the first time I am seeing that the government machinery is falling short. It normally doesn't happen. I don't want to get into details," Pawar said, attacking the government over the handling of the flood crises in the worst-hit Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts.
"We have never witnessed floods like this, spread across several districts. The damage to crops is extensive. Sugarcane, grapes and pomegranate plantations have suffered. There is huge soil erosion, which will create future problems," Pawar said.
He demanded 100 per cent farm loans waiver by the state government in the affected regions and other measures to mitigate the sufferings.
Earlier, the state Congress demanded that the army be called to help in relief and rescue operations in the flood-ravaged Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts.
State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said the situation had turned grim and looked beyond the control of the NDRF, SDRF and state administration. "The Centre must immediately deploy the army and also sanction Rs 4,000 crore emergency aid," Thorat said.
He said the situation worsened a week ago, but the guardian Ministers of these districts were reaching the regions now, showing apathy to the stranded people.
Thorat said, "Despite the state facing such a calamity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still in a celebration mood over J&K and has not even taken note of the situation."
Slamming Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, he said had the state government reacted fast and taken the issue up with the Karnataka government on release of waters from the Almatti Dam, Maharashtrians would have been spared of the crisis.
The need of the hour, Thorat said was to rescue lakhs of people stranded in the floods, provide them immediate relief and take measures for their rehabilitation.
Both Pawar and Thorat said teams of their party activists were active in different regions to help the marooned people and provide relief.
State BJP chief and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said, it was "a calamity of gigantic proportions and the Opposition parties must refrain from politicising it. We can do it after two months when the elections come".
Even Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray urged the Opposition not to play politics over the issue. "Let's not throw anyone in jail. First let us come of this grim situation," urged the Sena chief.