Expressing concern over the rain fury in Tamil Nadu, members in Rajya Sabha today offered to utilise MPLADS funds for relief and rehabilitation work in the state and some even announced contributions of varying amounts for the cause.
The House took up a discussion on the issue on urgent basis with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu saying the flood situation in Chennai is worrisome as IMD has prediced heavy rains in the next two days.
The situation is precarious as all connnectivity in the city has been disrupted due to overflowing of water, he said.
“I am very worried. I pray to the God to save all people,” the minister said.
He asked members to give concrete suggestions, both short and long term, with “one voice” to save the people in flood-hit Chennai without indulging in criticism of each other at this crucial juncture.
He said the flood situation in Chennai was discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning. “The PM has talked to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister (yesterday) and offered to give all support,” he added.
Naidu said a high level meeting will be held in a short while to discuss the Chennai flood issue.
The Tamil Nadu government is doing its best and the Centre has sanctioned Rs 933 crore towards flood relief to the state, the minister said.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said, “We can allow MPLADs funds for relief work in Chennai.”
He said National Disaster Relief Force is stuck in Chennai floods and hence helicopers should be sent to drop food packets to people.
Yechury’s suggestion was supported by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“I also associate with CPI-M leader. It (using MPLADs funds) had come to my mind, but as always Yechury takes the lead. On behalf of my party, we will support funds from MPLADS,” he said.
To this, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said: “All of us are willing to contribute from MPLADS to provide relief to flood-affected Chennai. The amount will be decided in consultation with Chairman.”
Under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), the district authorities spend money on works recommended by member of both the Houses from time to time.
Tarun Vijay (BJP) announced Rs 50 lakh from his MPLAD fund while Ramdas Athavale (RPI-A) declared donation of his one month’s salary of Rs one lakh besides contribution from MPLAD fund for the Tamil Nadu flood victims.
Kurien said members should contribute significant amount like Rs 50 lakh or Rs 1 crore from their MPLAD fund.
A number of members demanded that Centre should send another team to the flood-affected state for fresh assessment of the losses.
Derek O Brien (Trinamool Cong) stressed the need for augmenting National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and making it more efficient besides utilising the allocated funds.
Citing CAG report that NDMA is ill-equipped to handle potential natural disaster, he said barely about Rs 7 crore could be allotted out of Rs 200 crore funds earmarked for the NDRF in 2014-15.
Demanding adequate relief and rescue measures for Tamil Nadu, he said at the same time, justice should be done with states like West Bengal and Odisha in fund-allotment as these states had taken pre-emptive measures.
KC Tyagi (JDU) stressed the need for better coordination for disaster management between impacted districts and state.
He said serious steps were needed to tackle such a situation as India ranks second globally as far as natural disasters are concerned and 76 per cent of the Indian coastline was prone to calamities.
A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) said 14 lakh hectares of land has been inundated due to unprecedented rains. He said state government was taking all possible measures to provide relief and rescue operations to people.
KN Balagopal (CPM) stressed the need for a separate discussion on climate change and global warming.
Bhupinder Singh (BJD) too demanded a separate discussion on disaster management and natural calamity. He appealed the government to ensure that life of every single individual is saved in Tamil Nadu.
CM Ramesh (TDP) said 2 lakh hectares of agriculture land was damaged in three districts of Andhra Pradesh in similar situation.
DP Tripathi (NCP) demanded a day be observed as Tamil Nadu day in view of unprecedented and unimaginable rains wreaking havoc there.
K Parasaran (nominated) said there is immediate need to make access to people.