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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shoigu: Clean Up Lensk or Face Ax

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu warned that efforts to rebuild flood-devastated Lensk had better pick up pace to meet his Sept. 15 deadline or heads might roll.

Shoigu heads a federal commission overseeing the restoration of water supplies, sewage services and homes damaged in spring flooding. Hundreds of new apartments are also being built for residents who were left homeless.

"If we are not able to keep up with the schedule, then several leaders will probably have to resign," Shoigu said during an inspection of the eastern Siberian city on Wednesday, Kommersant reported.

Shoigu has said that he himself would resign if the deadline is not met.

Shoigu said that building supplies were five days behind schedule and was critical of the plans, prepared only a day before his arrival, for a dam to protect the city of 40,000 people. He said the plans looked incomplete.

Shoigu also complained that municipal drinking water was not yet up to par, despite assurances from Valery Popov, Sakha's head of residential and communal services.

"I came here to sort out the situation, not to be deceived," Shoigu was quoted by Interfax as saying.

According to the Emergency Situations Ministry, 246 municipal apartments and 75 private homes of the 4,500 residences needing repairs had been fixed up by the start of this week.

The nearby Lena River flooded 70 settlements in the republic of Sakha this year, the worst spring flooding in a century.

President Vladimir Putin, who visited Lensk soon after the floods hit in May, has promised to return before winter "to make sure people have not been left without a roof over their heads."

The work in Lensk, which is a service city for the world's second largest diamond extraction center, in Mirny, will cost 5.65 billion rubles ($192 million), of which 1.2 billion rubles is to come from the federal government, 1.45 billion from the regional government and 3 billion from diamond monopoly Almazy Rossii-Sakha, according to Interfax.

The city has thousands of workers from throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States working on building 2,312 new apartments on five sites in flood-free zones.

More than 1,000 Lensk residents have been offered government certificates that will help them move into new homes in other parts of Russia.

Prosecutors are investigating the allocation of the certificates after reports that some had been issued to people whose homes were either minimally damaged or not damaged at all.