The Gujarat government Tuesday announced a relief package of Rs 300 crore, covering 9,378 affected families, farm erosion, and damage of commercial establishment and cattle deaths during the June 24 flash flood. The Opposition Congress, however, called the package “hugely insufficient”.
Paresh Dhanani, Congress MLA from Amreli who is currently on a hunger strike demanding special package for those affected by the flash flood, told The Indian Express: “Rs 300-crore package is like a loaf bread to a beggar. The government’s own primary estimate of damage was Rs1,650 crore. Our eatimate is that damage is to the tune of around Rs 7,000 crore. But our demand was never about relief package in crores. Our demand was for a special relief package wherein the government directly helps affected people, for example helping farmers restore their agricultural land by deploying the state machinery. Since our charter of demands has been overlooked, there is anger among public and to voice their anger, I have decided to continue my hunger strike for three more days.” Meanwhile, the Amreli administration has denied him permission to extend the fast.
According to a press release by the government, agriculture in 14 districts was affected and soil erosion in five districts, including Amreli, was recorded. The government maintained that more than 1.25 lakh farmers and 1.50 lakh hectare agricultural land were affected in varied degrees.
Government spokesperson and health minister Nitin Patel said: Rs 150 crore will be drawn from the calamity relief fund. And, the state government will contribute Rs 150 crore. The government is contributing to give a package bigger than the norms of the calamity relief fund.”
Patel, however maintained, the package has been designed as per the suggestions of a high-level committee consisting four cabinet ministers, and not under the pressure from the Opposition. “What Congress has been doing is all political. They have not come to the government with any demand or proposal for the package,” he said.
The minister was referring to almost a week-long fast by Dhanani. Amreli with 47 deaths was the worst affected district.
Senior Congress leaders, including Congress Legislative Party leader Shankersinh Vaghela, were in Amreli with Dhanani when the package was announced.
The government said that as many as 9,378 affected families in 14 districts, who were earlier given cash doles, will be getting additional Rs 3,200 per household, making overall relief to the tune of Rs 7 crore.
Besides, Rs 25,000 per hectare would be given in case of limited soil erosion and Rs 60,000 per hectare in case of heavy erosion. According to Patel, as per the calamity relief fund norms, only Rs 12,200 should be sanctioned.
Rs 40,000 per cattle up to death of 3 cattle, and Rs 30,000 per additional two cattle deaths have been announced, in which the contribution by the state government would be Rs 10,000 per cattle.
As the flash flood had hit in sowing season, the government has sanctioned aid to the tune of Rs 6,800 per hectare for non-irrigated land, Rs 13,500 for irrigated land and Rs 18,000 for horticultural yields. Besides other measures, for land redevelopment, farmers would get 4 per cent interest subsidy for one year on loans, receptively of Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh.