The Punjab Government on Monday declared the current flood situation in the affected villages of the state as a natural calamity, with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh directing the Financial Commissioner Revenue (FCR) to issue the necessary notification at the earliest.Captain Amarinder has asked FCR to officially declare a natural calamity with the village as a unit, in order to facilitate the affected people to claim insurance against loss from various companies. This would also help the banks, especially the state cooperative banks, to restructure and defer the recovery of crop loans from farmers, as per the norms of Reserve Bank of India.The Chief Minister was chairing a high level meeting to review the flood preparedness in the state. During the meeting, he asked the Finance Department to immediately clear the pending relief funds to the tune of around Rs 100 crore, in respect of the previous crops/harvests, for expeditious disbursement by the Revenue Department, through the respective Deputy Commissioner.Captain Amarinder, who had earlier in the day visited the flood-hit areas of Rupnagar to make an on-the-ground assessment of the situation, directed all the Deputy Commissioners, in close coordination with Police, NDRF, SDRF and all other State Government Departments and entities, to closely monitor the situation with a view to providing not only expeditious rescue and relief operation but also to take pro-active preventive measures.Compensation as per the prescribed norms should be disbursed expeditiously in case of death, to the next of kin forthwith, the Chief Minister directed, while also ordering temporary subsistence allowance to the migrant labour, who may otherwise not be covered in the existing relief norms of the State Policy, to be paid out of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
Captain Amarinder further ordered the Drainage Department to immediately plug the breaches, with the help of the Army if needed, while asking all DCs to remain on high alert in case of additional release from the flood-gates of the dams.It was also decided at the meeting that the Chief Minister Secretariat as well as Chief Secretary would maintain close liaison with the office of the Army Commander, Western Command, Chandimandir, and pro-actively apprise them of the nature and quantum of Army assistance required. The respective Deputy Commissioners shall make the formal request at their level, as and when the situation so warrants.Further, the Chief Minister asked the Canal Administration and the Draining Wings of the Irrigation / Water Resources Department to work closely together to ensure that the water released into the canals and rivers are optimally balanced. In case of Ranjit Sagar Dam on River Ravi, the operation and management of which is with the State Water Resources / Irrigation Department and POWERCOM, the situation shall be closely monitored so that the appropriate measures to release water can be taken, while widely disseminating the information well in advance as to when the flood-gates are going to be opened.Captain Amarinder has also directed various Departments, including Health Department and Animal Husbandry Department, to continue to provide emergency medicines and animal fodder in the affected villages.Earlier, briefing Captain Amarinder about the current flood situation in the state the Chief Secretary said that the overall situation was being monitored closely and relief and rescue measures were also being undertaken in full earnest. The FCR informed the Chief Minister that there was no paucity of Disaster Response Funds. He said that all the DCs had been allotted advance funds to the tune of Rs. 20 Lakh each, to carry out flood protection works.The meeting was attended by Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary To CM Tejveer Singh, Special Chief Secretary-cum-Financial Commissioner Revenue KBS Sidhu, ACS Home Satish Chandra, DGP Dinkar Gupta, Principal Secretary Water Resources Sarvjit Singh, Secretary Expenditure V N Zade, Special Secretary Revenue Rajiv Prashar, and Chief Engineer Drainage Sanjiv Gupta.