PM assures immediate flood assistance to Kerala

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New Delhi, Apr 15 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured an all-party Kerala delegation led by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan that the Centre would announce assistance to the state immediately after the receipt of the report of the Central team which visited the state to assess the damages caused by floods.

Mr Achuthanandan told mediapersons that Dr Singh had assured that the Union Cabinet would take a decision on the quantum of assistance at its next meeting immediately after receiving the Central team's report.

The delegation sought a change in the norms for sanctioning assistance as damages were caused by heavy downpour during summer.

The delegation, which comprised former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, urged the Prime Minister to get the cabinet nod to the revival package of Kuttanad, the rice bowl of the state, on the basis of the M S Swaminathan Committee report.

Mr Achuthanandan said the delegation had brought to the notice of the Prime Minister the demand for setting up a bench of the Kerala High Court in Thiruvananthapuram. The Kerala High Court is now located in Kochi.

He said Dr Singh had been urged to remove the hitches in the implementation of the Metro Rail project in Kochi.

The delegation sought an increased quota of rice from the Central pool for distribution under the Public Distribution System (PDS). It was pointed out that the state's quota of rice for distribution among the Above Poverty Line (APL) families has been cut to 17,000 tonnes from 113,420 tonnes.

Mr Achuthanandan told Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar that the state would face an acute food crisis if its original rice quota of 113,420 tonnes was not restored.

The delegation also met Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

UNI SH RR BST2036

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