New Delhi: As Kerala battles one of its worst floods, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, after a review of the situation, announced financial assistance of 500 crores to the state. Modi undertook an aerial survey of flood-hit parts after holding a meeting with chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, union minister K J Alphons and top officials of the state.

Relief measures announced by the Prime Minister include an ex gratia amount of 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and 50,000 to those seriously injured to be taken from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). The financial assistance announced by the Prime Minister is seperate from the 100 crore announcement made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier this week.

“PM has directed Insurance companies to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families/beneficiaries under Social Security Schemes. The directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under Fasal Bima Yojana to agriculturists," said a government release by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

More than 1 million people, slightly less than 5% of Kerala’s 33 million population, are feared displaced, raising concerns that the enormity of the tragedy may be more than what is known yet. The floods in August alone have claimed 164 lives but the toll since the arrival of monsoon rains in May stands at 324.

As an assistance to those from rural areas, Midi announced that villagers whose ‘kuccha houses’ have been destroyed in the floods will be provided houses on priority under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) irrespective of the permanent wait list of PMAY-G. “Under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme 5.5 crore person days have been sanctioned in the labour budget 2018-19. Any further request for incurring person days would be considered as per the requirement projected by the state," the release added.

With Kerala’s infrastrucutre being badly hit, Modi on Saturday also directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to repair the main national highways. To effectively restore power lines, both the NTPC and PGCIL have been directed to ensure all possible assistance is given to the state government.

The release added that a total of 57 Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) involving about 1,300 personnel and 435 boats have been deployed for search and rescue operations. According to the chief minister’s office, as of Friday, a total of 324 lives have been lost in the state and more than 2.23 lakh people are in more than 1,500 relief camps.

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