The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Regional Development Minister Igor Slyunyayev, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, Presidential Aide Konstantin Chuychenko, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District Vladimir Ustinov, Head of the Federal Agency for Water Resources Marina Seliverstova, Krasnodar Territory Governor Alexander Tkachev and representatives of public organisations.
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Address at the meeting on the implementation of Presidential executive orders on disaster relief following the floods in the Krymsk county, Krasnodar Territory
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today, we will summarise the main results of the relief efforts following flooding in the Krymsk county, Krasnodar Territory.
Efforts are still ongoing and I will tell you more about it. We will continue to monitor everything that goes on in this area and in this region, but we can draw some general conclusions already.
Besides, we will discuss measures to protect Krymsk and the surrounding area from similar natural disasters in the future and will generally take a more comprehensive look at this issue, including such matters as hydraulic structures, the entire infrastructure, the public alert system and the prediction and prevention of natural disasters.
As you know, the Governor and I visited Krymsk in January 2013, where we met with local residents, talked with them, looked at the houses that have been built and checked on the state of repairs. We spoke openly about how things stand with monetary compensation, with legal and medical assistance, and the commissioning of new housing to replace the homes that were destroyed.
Overall, there have not been any major complaints about our work there. All the necessary measures to support the people who were affected by the flood were taken in a timely manner. Budget allocations were transferred in full and on time, too.
I will not go into details regarding the figures involved, which are very impressive, the size and amount of the payments made, since you are familiar with them. Let me just say that the flood relief allocations from the federal budget alone amounted to 9.5 billion rubles [$320 million].
”I would like to thank the people of Krymsk for their courage and patience, for their hard work, their optimism and their trust in the authorities. I also want to thank all those who took part in the relief efforts following this terrible disaster.“
Mr Tkachev, how much was allocated from the regional budget?
Krasnodar Territory Governor Alexander Tkachev: Seven billion rubles.
Vladimir Putin: So, the state allocated 16.5 billion rubles in total for the relief efforts.
Alexander Tkachev: A further four billion was spent on strengthening the banks.
Vladimir Putin: We will talk about strengthening the banks and other measures a little later.
These funds were used to provide financial assistance to residents and address the housing problems in Krymsk.
Let me remind that the people were given a choice of a flat (as far as I know, everyone who submitted an application by September 1, 2012 has already moved into the new accommodation), or monetary compensation that could be used to purchase housing independently.
Those who chose the second option have six months to make the purchase from the time when they receive a housing certificate. In this regard, I ask the local and regional authorities to provide advice to the people if necessary with the choice of housing and the documents that are required, so that we don’t find ourselves in a situation that the certificate has expired and the people end up without homes. We must not allow this to happen.
It is crucial that every citizen entitled to assistance from the state receives it in full. This includes housing, monetary payments and healthcare services.
Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to the urgent need to complete the construction of the social and transport infrastructure in the new districts, Nadezhda and Ozerki, which the Governor and I visited together, so that the local residents have access to quality roads, public transport, hospitals and kindergartens.
I know that the work is under way and the construction is making progress. Some facilities have already been commissioned and have begun to operate, but the work has not been completed. I ask you to treat this issue with the utmost attention and make sure everything is completed. People expect these results; overall, the atmosphere is very positive but we must follow these initiatives to the end.
The renovation of buildings damaged by the flood is a separate issue. Repairs have been completed at 6,030 sites, but work did not start in 322 buildings due to the owners’ requests to postpone the repairs until 2013, or because the owners were in the process of registering an inheritance.
Here we encountered a problem that provoked a considerable public response. Due to mistakes in calculations, a number of applicants received larger payments than they were entitled to. I wouldn’t reprimand those who made the mistakes; I remember the conditions in which the work was going on and I understand that the regional and federal authorities were under a great deal of pressure from the federal centre to do this as quickly as possible. This may have led to mistakes in calculations in some cases. According to estimates, the total amount of such overpayment was about 26 million rubles [$0.9 million].
Again, I don’t see anything special here, but what they should not have done was demand the money back because the people may have already spent it. Where are they going to get the money now? I have just discussed this matter with the Finance Minister.
The solution we have come to is as follows: leave the people alone, let them have the money, and pay it back to those who have already returned it so that they don’t end up worse off than the others. We could even give them a small prize for honesty. In any case, pay the money back and settle the matter with the federal budget, because these are federal funds.
Alexander Tkachev: We will.
”I ask the local authorities to closely monitor construction in the areas affected by flooding to make sure that no new capital construction projects are undertaken without special flood protection measures.“
Vladimir Putin: Next. As agreed, our task is not only to provide relief efforts following the floods; the federal and regional authorities must take comprehensive measures to prevent similar disasters in this and other counties.
Therefore, our discussion today will focus on the events in Krymsk but I would like to ask the representatives of federal agencies to bear in mind that these measures must be extended to other regions of the country.
In particular, this involves strengthening riverbanks, cleaning riverbeds, building dams and reservoirs, reconstructing bridges, as well as establishing an effective monitoring and public alert system for emergencies.
A relevant plan of measures for the protection of the Krymsk county from the negative impact of the rivers has been drafted. This meeting will discuss the plan’s financing and deadlines. The experts have some proposals on how this work could be conducted with the greatest efficiency, as well as how to secure the funding. I ask you to return to this today, to present us with different options and we will make the final decision.
One more point. I ask the local authorities to closely monitor construction in the areas affected by flooding to make sure that no new capital construction projects are undertaken without special flood protection measures.
We have had enough tragedies for once. Let's adopt a disciplined approach to such issues. We must not repeat the same mistakes. They can cost us too dearly.
Let's start our discussion.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to thank the people of Krymsk for their courage and patience, for their hard work, their optimism and their trust in the authorities. I also want to thank all those who took part in the relief efforts following this terrible disaster.
Hopefully, our regional and federal authorities will never allow anything like this to happen again, or at least they will do everything to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated. I ask Mr Kozak [Deputy Prime Minister] to submit proposals on presenting awards to those who worked selflessly and courageously, and I ask the Russian Government and the regional authorities to persevere in their efforts to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
Thank you all.