The Union government has excluded Punjab from the purview of Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) to be visiting 11 flood-affected states despite Satluj river wrecking havoc in Punjab and the state pegging the financial loss at Rs 1,700 crore.
The Centre on Saturday constituted teams of ministers to visit the states affected by floods. A statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs stated: “In pursuance of a decision taken by the Union Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah, in the High Level Committee (HLC) meeting held on August 19, the Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) to visit the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala affected by recent floods.”
While the IMCT for Karnakata, led by Shri Prakash, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, already visited Karnataka on Saturday to have first-hand on-the-spot assessment of damage caused and relief work carried out by the state administration, Punjab does not even figure on the list of states where the Central team would be visiting.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has already expressed his disappointment at the development. He tweeted: “Surprised on the exclusion of Punjab from the list of States to be visited by the Inter-Ministerial Central Team to assess losses in flood-affected areas in different States. Request HM @AmitShah ji to direct the Central Team to visit Punjab to assess the huge losses.”
In a statement issued later, the Chief Minister demanded immediate inclusion of Punjab among the states identified for on-the-spot assessment of the flood situation by an Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT).
“The Centre has listed 11 states that for IMCT review of the flood damage but Punjab does not find mention in it, even though the state has witnessed large-scale flooding in many areas following unprecedented rains,” said the statement.
The Chief Minister expressed surprise over Punjab’s non-inclusion, and has urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to immediately rectify the situation, said the statement.
Punjab is one of the few Congress-ruled states. It is the only Congress-ruled state that sent eight Congress MPs to Parliament in the recent Lok Sabha election. But the Chief Minister enjoys a good relationship with the Prime Minister. The CM had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi two days ago seeking a Central assistance of Rs 1,000 crore after the Finance Commissioner (Revenue) pegged the loss due to floods at Rs 1,700 crore. The farmers alone have been estimated to have suffered a crop damage worth Rs 750 crore.
The Satluj river had breached at at least nine points after water was released from Bhakra dam after opening of flood gates. This had led to inundation of at least 300 villages affecting normal life and also causing a loss of property, cattle head to the people.
The government was expecting the central team to visit Punjab after it sent its memorandum. As the IMCTs used to visit the affected states only once after the receipt of memorandum from the affected state concerned. But this time the Centre, in a departure from the past, has decided to send the IMCT before the memorandum. The same IMCT will again visit the state after submission of the memorandum for a detailed assessment of the damage and relief operations conducted for making final recommendations for allocation of additional funds.