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October 24, 2010

Page: 35/40

Home > 2010 Issues > October 24, 2010

Central Relief Fund norms unfair to BJP states- Dr MM Joshi
By Ravindra Saini

As the losses in the states due to natural calamities are unprecedented the Centre should provide the aid demanded by the State governments since it is beyond the capacity of the states alone to handle the losses with their own resources.

SENIOR BJP leader and former Union HRD Minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi said that the existing Central Relief Fund (CRF) norms related to natural disasters are not suitable for the hill states and that there is an urgent need to amend them at the earliest. Addressing a Press conference in Dehradun on October 5 he said he had toured the Kumaon region by helicopter and that he had never seen such a large scale disaster in his entire life that had struck the State.

Dr Joshi said the current relief norms of the Union Government are grossly inadequate for the hills and that there is a need to amend them at the earliest. It is a matter of public knowledge that the cost of construction is relatively higher in the State and the current relief norm of providing Rs. 35,000 for a damaged pucca house amounts to no relief to the affected persons. This amount is not enough even in the plains and is grossly impractical in the hill regions.

Dr Joshi said he met large number of villagers during his tour and was pained to see the large-scale destruction all around. Majority of the roads were damaged resulting in breaking down of connectivity. A large number of private pucca and kucha houses had broken down. The current relief norms are not enough to make a difference to those who have lost their houses or livelihood due to excessive rains in the State.

Shri Joshi informed that during his tour to the State, he saw most of the farms and fields covered with huge amounts of silt resulting in permanent damage to the agricultural land, crop losses and loss of livelihood in respect of thousands of families in the State. He said that villages and agriculture land had been swept away due to excessive rains in an unprecedented manner. A large number of people had lost their livelihood and ought to be rehabilitated adequately. The current norms fail to provide any relief to the affected persons, he noted as the relief amount available is negligible. He also appealed to the people and to the engineers at IIT Roorkie to prepare structural design norms for buildings in the hills of the State so that buildings can be safer during natural calamities.

He said the amount of Rs 21,000 crore, as aid by Central government in inadequate. As the losses in the states due to natural calamities are unprecedented the Centre should provide the aid demanded by the State governments since it is beyond the capacity of the states alone to handle the losses of this magnitude with their own resources. The veteran BJP leader lamented the fact that the Opposition parties in the State are not playing a constructive role by politicising the issue of relief to the disaster affected persons in Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, former Chief Minister Shri BC Khanduri, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Pant, BJP State president Bishan Singh Chufal were also present on the occasion.

Talking to Organiser former Chief Minister and the Rajya Sabha MP from the State Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari termed the central relief fund given to the victims of natural calamities as very low and demanded to amend it for all the Himalayan states from Arunachal Pradesh to Uttarakhand. He also stressed the need that the work of conducting survey of damage should not be done in hurry and should be done extensively so that all the victims can get sufficient and proper relief.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Dr ‘Nishank’ reviewed the disaster-management operations and developmental works in all the districts of the State through video conferencing at the Secretariat on October 11. He directed the Chief Secretary to ensure availability of land within a month for all the villages identified for rehabilitation and resettlement. He also sought a clear-cut policy within a week for the resettlement and rehabilitation of such villages. The CM also directed all the District Magistrates to arrange for tin sheds in all the districts as temporary settlement for the homeless people till a permanent arrangement is made. He added that such tin sheds ought to be arranged very soon keeping in view the approaching winter season and added that not a single person in the State should remain in tents.

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