Kashmir's disaster is India's disaster, Rs 1,000 crore aid: Narendra Modi

Jammu/Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday visited flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir to review the situation and announced special assistance of Rs.1,000 crore while Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked people not to panic and assured help will reach them soon.

Modi, who Sunday undertook an aerial survey of the flood-affected Jammu and Srinagar regions along with army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, also offered assistance to Pakistan for flood relief operations in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but Islamabad said its relief and rescue operations were proceeding effectively.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) meanwhile began a massive aerial relief and rescue operation in flood-affected regions, where over 100 people have been killed as well as property and infrastructure badly damaged.

The Rs.1,000 crore package announced for the flood-hit state was besides a Rs.2 lakh compensation from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for the kin of each dead and Rs.50,000 each for the seriously injured.

Modi termed the current crisis - the worst-floods in the state in six decades - a "national level disaster".

Abdullah, who also met the prime minister, promised the flood-hit people that help will reach them soon and asked them not to panic.

"This is an unprecedented situation and we are doing the best we can under the circumstances. Please don't panic, we will reach you, I promise," the chief minister wrote on his Twitter account.

The floods continued to wreak havoc in Kashmir Valley with flood waters entering many more residential areas here Sunday. Radio transmission in the Kashmir Valley was cut off after flood waters inundated the transmitter installations of state-run Radio Kashmir in Srinagar, officials said.

The floods, which hit the Valley Tuesday, breached a Jhelum River embankment Saturday night, submerging Shivpora, Indira Nagar, Kursoo Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gogjibagh, Hari Singh High Street, Batmaloo and other civil lines areas.

The situation in south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama has assumed the proportions of an unparalleled natural calamity as residents in these districts have never experienced in their living memory.

Thousands of people in more than 700 villages have abandoned their homes and livestock and shifted to higher reaches to escape the fury of rising waters.

Modi said the army, air force and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were cooperating with the state to expedite relief work.

He said medical and other assistance would be provided on an urgent basis, and in view of damage to houses, efforts were on to arrange tents.

"Many houses have been destroyed. We are speeding work to provide 5,000 tents in flood-hit areas," he said, adding the government was prepared to provide relief to people as the weather becomes colder.

The government has directed officials to repair roads leading to Ladakh so that food and other livelihood supplies could be sent before the state gets cut off at the onset of winter.

The prime minister also offered to extend all possible help to the flood-affected people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"India will never hesitate from doing work of humanity," Modi said, and also appealed to all states to provide assistance to Jammu and Kashmir.

He also wrote to his Pakistani counterpart Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offering help if required.

"My heart goes out to the affected people and my deepest sympathies are with them and their families. In this hour of need, I offer any assistance that you may need in the relief efforts that will be undertaken by the government of Pakistan. Our resources are at your disposal wherever you need them," he said.

Official sources in Islamabad however said that Nawaz Sharif Sunday undertook an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and appreciated the rescue and relief operations underway.

"Our Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had aerial survey of Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-administered Kashmir) and other flood-hit areas today (Sunday). Our rescue and relief operations are proceeding effectively," a Pakistan government source said.

Meanwhile, the IAF announced it has sent a C-17 Globemaster aircraft from Delhi to Awantipur with RAMT (Rapid Action Medical Team), two IL-76 aircraft with medical supplies and boats and another IL-76 with teams of National Disaster Response Force personnel.

Three C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft have been pressed into service to transport boats from Pune and Gandhinagar to Srinagar and blankets and tents from Kanpur to Jammu and Srinagar, it said.

A total of 26 IAF helicopters are also operating in the floot-hit regions.

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