Union Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan promised to work as a ‘soldier of Odisha’ in Delhi and impress upon the central government to extend all possible assistance to the flood-affected people of the state.

Pradhan, accompanied by Bolangir and Kalahandi MP’s –Sangeeta Singh Deo and Basant Panda respectively, conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected Bolangir, Kalahandi, Boudh and Sonepur districts on Saturday.

He held a review meeting and said the districts had received record rainfall for three successive days causing unprecedented floods. He agreed that Bolangir was the worst affected.

Pradhan told district officers that they need to send damage assessment reports early.

The Union Minister urged upon officers to ensure that the affected are covered under various schemes for housing and loans for small businesses etc.

The PMAY, Mudra loan etc can be extended to those whose houses and small businesses have been damaged, stated Pradhan.

It is learnt that the locally elected representatives including veteran Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra demanded a special relief and rehabilitation package for Bolangir.

They had earlier placed a demand of Rs 1000 crore to the state revenue minister and on Saturday, they listed out damage restoration work which would entail an expenditure of Rs 2000 crore, said reliable sources.

Interestingly, Pradhan’s remark that he would work as a ‘soldier’ of Odisha at Delhi reminded people here of a similar pronouncement made by Rahul Gandhi a few years ago when he told the tribals of Lanjigarh fighting against the mining of Niyamgiri Hills by Vedanta company and the Odisha Mining Corporation.

Rahul Gandhi had told the tribals that he will fight on their behalf as their soldier and protected Niyamgiri hills.