Defence minister visits Kodagu, promises aid

Defence minister visits Kodagu, promises aid

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday visited relief centres in Madikeri and promised the flood victims that the Centre will announce financial aid.

Nirmala, a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, said the Central team has been conducting a survey to assess the damage caused by heavy rain and landslides. She said financial help will be announced based on the findings of the survey. She said Rs 7 crore from the defence funds and Rs 1 crore from her MP Local Area Development Fund will be given immediately.

“In Kerala, we released a package of Rs 500 crore in the first phase. The situation in Kerala will be communicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union ministers Rajanath Singh and Nitin Gadkari following which we will announce financial aid,” she said.

Nirmala said the largescale damage suffered by the district was visible as roads and bridges have to be built anew and promised that technical teams from the Centre will be sent to the district.

She said though the centre sent a helicopter, airlifting was not possible due to inclement weather. The defence team went on foot to remote places and rescued 504 people. They have also built a temporary bridge to connect Mukkodlu and Kaluru.

Mysore-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha, who was translating the defence minister’s assurances in English to Kannada, went on to speak more about the work done by leaders and politicians. Nirmala jokingly said that he was speaking more than what she had said.

“He is telling more than I have actually spoken. But he is an MP. He can talk. We cannot bring back the lives and livelihood you have lost. But I promise that we will help you,” she said

That the relief work being done is not devoid of a little politics was visible when a local leader, during the visit of Nirmala, asked inmates whether they would like to “move to a new camp provided by the government” from the present one run by Seva Bharati.

It was a calculated question. Around 250 inmates at the camp, run by the organisation affiliated to RSS, said they don’t want to move.

Simha intervened and explained to the inmates that Brahmanara Kalyana Mantapa, where the relief camp is located, needs to be vacated for other events. “The new camp will be set up by the government but Seva Bharati will continue to serve you there,” he explained.