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Punjab has calculated its total loss caused by incessant rainfall on July 9 and 10 and subsequent floods across the state at Rs 1320.59 crore, including Rs 605.38 crore damage to agriculture and Rs 173.10 crore to roads and buildings.Nearly 1,500 villages in 19 of Punjab’s 23 districts have been badly affected due to loss of life, crops and property, according to the state government.

Punjab chief secretary Anurag Verma on Thursday requested the inter-ministerial central team, which is in the state at present to assess flood-related losses, to relax the compensation norms for damage caused by the floods.

The state wants the Centre’s go-ahead to double the compensation amount. After a meeting with the central team, Verma said chief minister Bhagwant Mann had already written a letter to the Union home minister seeking a change in the norms. The CM wrote that there is no shortfall in the state disaster relief funds to compensate the victims, only a change in the norms for compensating the damage is required.
As per the CM’s letter, the AAP government wants to double the amount of compensation given to the family of deceased from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 8 lakh. It also wants compensation for damage to crops to be doubled from Rs 17,000 to Rs 34,000, for milch animals from Rs 37,500 to Rs 75,000, for damaged houses from Rs 1,20,000 to Rs 2.40 lakh.
“Because of the norms of the Union home ministry, the state government is unable to provide adequate compensation. Therefore, there is a need to change these norms,” said Verma. The head of the central team and financial adviser of the National Disaster Management Authority Ravinish Kumar said that his team had visited many states and after Himachal Pradesh, it was Punjab that had suffered the most damage.

Another member, head of flood mapping and Isro scientist Dr AV Suresh Babu said that it was also clear through the satellite images that the heavy rain had caused a lot of damage in Punjab and many areas have come under heavy floods.

The Union minister, in reply to another question by the Bathinda MP, said that as per assessment by the Punjab government’s drainage wing, the quantity of sand and gravel available on riverbeds is 15 times the annual sand and gravel consumption of the state.
In 2020, the Punjab government approved allocation of 78 sites with 274.22 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of sand and gravel to mining contractors and agreements for 58 sites were executed. A total of 167.57 LMT of sand and gravel was extracted till the completion of these contracts.

The Centre has already formulated ‘National Framework for Sediment Management (October, 2022)’ to manage sediments on riverbeds in a holistic manner, the Union minister said in response to Harsimrat’s question on whether the government has any proposal to formulate policies for systematic desilting of rivers in Punjab that contain nearly 7,000 LMT of sediments.

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