At a time when states such as Assam and Kerala have been complaining that the Centre is not giving them adequate funds in flood relief, sources in Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday said these states have actually failed to utilise their funds. Assam, in fact, diverted disaster funds given to it in 2019 to its general account to meet other expenses, the sources said.
Home Ministry officials said there was a procedure for release of funds to states to meet disaster needs, but many states were not following them fully and complaining. They said funds are given to states every year in advance, but if the states are unable to utilise them, they are denied fresh funds or provided less funds.
“Kerala was given Rs 3,000 crore as disaster relief fund. Till March 2019, it had not utilised Rs 2,100 crore of this. Since then, they have submitted some utilisation certificates but we do not know whether the spending was on 2018 floods or 2019 floods. They have sought Rs 2,000 crore more. Similarly, Assam diverted the disaster fund to its general account. They have now transferred it back. They have been given some funds after deduction this year. They will not get any more funds,” a senior official said.
Sources said release of funds to West Bengal has been delayed as the memorandum received from the state about damages due to natural calamity was “not proper”. They said once the correct memorandum is received, funds would be released.
A high-level committee headed by Home Minister Amit Shah had on January 6 approved additional central assistance of Rs 5,908.56 crore to seven states from National Disaster Response Fund — Rs. 616.63 crore to Assam, Rs. 284.93 crore to Himachal Pradesh, Rs 1869.85 crore to Karnataka, Rs 1749.73 crore to Madhya Pradesh, Rs 956.93 crore to Maharashtra, Rs 63.32 to Tripura and Rs 367.17 crore to Uttar Pradesh for floods/ landslides/cloudburst during the south-west monsoon last year.
“If you fail to utilise funds, then depending on the scale of utilisation and the need of the situation, states are either denied or given less fund. Generally, funds are reduced by 50%,” an official said.