Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday sanctioned Rs 500 crore as interim flood relief for Kerala. The announcement was made at the high-level meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister KJ Alphons and other officials in Kochi. PM Modi has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured, from PM’s National Relief Funds.

PM Modi was supposed to conduct an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas but it was cancelled after rains resumed in Kochi. Click here to catch live news updates on Kerala floods.

The interim relief of Rs 500 crore has been announced nearly a week after the Central government sanctioned Rs 100 crore when Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the state to take a stock of the situation. Prior to that, the first instalment of the relief was released last month and the second one was released before his visit to Kerala, last Sunday.

“I understand the suffering of the people of Kerala due to this unprecedented crisis. Since assessment of damages will take some time, I hereby announce immediate relief of additional Rs 100 crores,” Rajnath Singh had tweeted, adding, “In order to supplement the efforts of the state government, just before leaving for Kerala I have approved the release the second instalment of Rs 80.25 crore in advance.”

The Rs 100 crore relief was however slammed by Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac who called it “a drop in the ocean” as the state had by then incurred a loss of more than Rs 8,000 crore. Issac also said that the Rs 100 crore relief came after CM Pinarayi Vijayan submitted a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking Rs 1,220 crore as a special package to deal with the situation arising from unprecedented floods following incessant rains.

“But the Union Minister announced Rs 100 crore as immediate relief, Issac tweeted, adding, “Total loss of floods to Kerala around ₹8000 crores. Immediate mitigation and rectification expenditure to the state around ₹3000. And the central grant precious ₹100. And that too if it is from regular disaster management fund due to Kerala.”

Incessant rains over the last nine days in Kerala have left a total of 324 people dead and over three lakh displaced. Meanwhile, the State Bank of India (SBI) has donated Rs 2 crore to Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) and announced waiver of fees and charges on services offered by the bank in Kerala, news agency ANI reported.