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Chidambaram assures maximum help for flood-ravaged Gujarat

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 24 (UNI) Two Gujarat MPs -- Kashiram Rana and Pushpdan Gadhavi -- today called on Finance Minister P Chidambaram and impressed upon him the urgency to announce a special Central financial package for industrial units and people of Surat, who were severely affected by the recent devastating floods.

Mr Rana and Mr Gadhavai also apprised the Finance Minister that the preliminary survey indicated a staggering loss of Rs.15,771 crore to trade, industry, services, vehicles and households because of the floods.

Mr Chidambaram apprised the MPs that he had already received the directions from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to give maximum assistance to the affected areas.

''The necessary directions to the RBI have also been issued for issuance of fresh loans and restructuring of existing loans,'' he told them.

To meet the customers' immediate cash requirements, he said the RBI had already given such instruction to banks.

''The Union Minister of State for Finance will also call a meeting of state-level bankers to direct them to provide relief to the affected people,'' the two MPs said, quoting Mr Chidambaram.

In a letter to Mr Chidambaram, they demanded that the Finance Ministry instruct the bankers to consider the assistance to traders in all sectors, who had been severely affected by the floods.

''The assistance to traders in terms of loan may be given at a very low interest rate, preferably on the same lines as that of industries,'' they said, pointing out that a total of 10 lakh retail traders had been affected.

Retail traders in Surat alone had suffered an estimated loss of Rs 10,000 crore, they said in their letter.

The approximate loss with regard to household and other items is to the tune of Rs 3500 crore and other losses are on plant andmachinery in textiles, diamond and other industries.

They also demanded immediate sanctioning of interest-free bank loans ranging between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 lakh for the affected persons to enable them to resume their normal life.

The MPs also urged the Finance Minister that a moratorium of at least one year should be put on the loan as well as interest.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured a delegation of Gujarat MPs that the Centre would provide all possible assistance to the flood-ravaged state, and also hinted at his possible visit there.

Dr Singh, who could earlier make only an aerial survey of Gujarat because of bad weather, said he would like to visit the state again to meet its people badly affected by the calamitous floods and torrential rains.

The delegation urged the Prime Minister to provide additional interim financial assistance of Rs 2,000 crore to Gujarat and treat the disaster similar to the killer earthquake that had rocked the state on January 26, 2001.

A memorandum, signed by MPs Kanshiram Rana, Ratilal Verma, P S Gadhavi, Haribhai Patel, Jayaben Thakker, Harin Pathak, Somabhai Patel and Mahesh Kanodia, was also presented to Dr Singh.

The MPs appealed to Dr Singh to immediately release Rs 20,000 crore as Central assistance for rescue and restoration efforts of the state government for Surat City and other affected districts.

On Sunday last, Dr Singh had deputed Textiles Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela to make an on-the-spot assessment of damages caused by floods in Surat, the hub of textile factories and diamond business.


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