Four months after the devastating Kerala floods, the Centre has approved an additional Rs 2,500 crore for relief and rehabilitation work. The Centre had earlier sanctioned Rs 600 crore for the same.
In September, the Kerala government had submitted a memorandum demanding Rs 4,800 crore with details about the loss of human life, properties, infrastructure and damage to crops. However, a committee headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba cleared Rs 3,100 crore, which includes the Rs 600 crore sanctioned earlier, officials confirmed. Read this story in Malayalam
The decision will now be put up before the high level committee (HLC) headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who along with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, will announce the final package, officials said.
The inter-ministerial Central team (IMCT), headed by Special Secretary B R Sharma, visited Kerala for on-the-spot assessment of damage and additional requirement of funds, and it was based on his report that the sub-committee of national executive committee (SC-NEC), headed by Gauba in conformity with norms, recently approved the quantum of additional assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), a senior government official explained.
An amount of Rs 600 crore had been sanctioned earlier as advance assistance, the Home Ministry clarified, following controversy that the Centre had turned down the UAE’s offer of Rs 700 crore for relief and rehabilitation works in Kerala. The government had said that India will not take any financial assistance from foreign governments, in sync with an existing policy since 2004, when the Centre finalised a disaster aid policy in the wake of the devastating December 2004 tsunami.
In September, the Centre had also enhanced its contribution in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) from 75 per cent to 90 per cent, with effect from April 1 that will also benefit Kerala. Under the Disaster Management Act 2005, a financial mechanism has been set up by way of National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) at the national level and SDRF at the state level to meet the rescue and relief expenditure during any notified disasters.
At least 488 people died in Kerala due to the rains and floods this monsoon. The large-scale devastation had affected 14 districts in the state.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry, in a separate communication to states and union territories, cautioned that while submitting a memorandum for central assistance, the state government “should ensure that their memorandum is strictly in conformity with the government of India approved items and norms”.
“This is the main reason for the gap between the assistance projected by the state government in their memorandum and NDRF assistance recommended by the SC-NEC and approved by the HLC,” a letter from MHA’s joint secretary Sanjeev K Jindal states.