File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
The Centre today said Rs 600 crore released two days ago to flood-hit Kerala was only the advance assistance and additional funds would be released when an inter-ministerial team visits the state again and assesses the damage.
The Home Ministry statement came amidst a row over accepting funds from foreign governments for Kerala after the United Arab Emirates offered USD 100 million (around Rs 700 crore) and the government declared that it will not take any financial assistance from foreign governments in sync with an existing policy.
“It is clarified that Rs 600 crore released by Centre is the advance assistance only. Additional funds would be released from NDRF on assessment of the damages as per laid down procedure,” the statement said. On Tuesday, the central government had released Rs 600 crore to flood-hit Kerala as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Rs 500 crore) and Home Minister Rajnath Singh (Rs 100 crore) during their visits to the state.
The home ministry said during the floods in Kerala, the Centre has provided urgent aid and relief material in a timely manner and without any reservation. The situation has been regularly monitored by the Prime Minister on daily basis and he visited the state on August 17-18, 2018. On his instructions, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary, regularly monitored and coordinated rescue and relief operations by holding daily meetings from Aug 16-21, 2018.
Senior officers of Defence Services, NDRF, NDMA and Secretaries of Civilian Ministries attended these meetings. Kerala Chief Secretary participated in these discussions through video conference. Following the decisions taken during these meetings, the Centre launched massive rescue and relief operations. In one of the largest rescue operations, 40 helicopters, 31 aircraft, 182 teams for rescue, 18 medical teams of defence forces, 58 teams of NDRF, 7 companies of Central Armed Police Forces were pressed into service along with over 500 boats and necessary rescue equipments. They successfully saved over 60,000 human lives by rescuing them from marooned areas and shifting them to relief camps, the statement said.
Defence aircraft and helicopters have made 1,084 sorties of duration 1,168 flying hours and airlifted 1,286 tonne of load and carried 3,332 rescuers. In addition, a number of Navy and Coast Guard ships were pressed into service to carry relief material to Kerala. The search and rescue operations and mobilisation of resources alone would cost the central government hundreds of crore of rupees.
The statement said after floods and landslides in Kerala last month, an interim memorandum was submitted by the state government on July 21 and immediately an inter-ministerial central team (IMCT) was constituted, which visited the state on August 7-12 for on-the-spot assessment of the damages. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had visited Kerala on July 21 followed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 12. Since there was a second spell of floods in the state, the state government has stated that they will submit an additional memorandum on the fresh damages caused by the floods and landslides once rescue efforts are over.
Since submission of additional memorandum by the state government will take time, with a view to assist the state in meeting relief and rescue expenditure, the central government has released Rs 600 crore in advance pending assessment by IMCT and decision of a high level committee. This is in addition to Rs 562.45 crore already made available in State Disaster Relief Fund of the state.
In addition to the financial support, the Centre has made available large quantities of emergency food, water, medicines and other essential supplies, including additional allocation of foodgrains, as requested by the state. Financial mechanism to meet the rescue and relief expenditure during any notified disaster event is governed by notified guidelines on State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
State Disaster Response Fund has been constituted in each state in which the Centre contributes 75 per cent for general category states and 90 per cent for special category states of hilly regions every year as per the award of the successive Finance Commissions. As per the guidelines, the central government provides its allocation to SDRF of each state in advance in two installments. In case of any natural calamity, State meets the expenditure of relief and rescue from the SDRF already available at its disposal.
In case of any natural calamity beyond the coping capacity of a state, the state government submits a detailed memorandum indicating the sector-wise details of damage and requirement of funds for relief operations of immediate nature. On receipt of a memorandum, an Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) is deputed by the Central Government for on-the-spot assessment of damages and additional requirement of funds.
The report of IMCT is considered by the Sub-Committee of National Executive Committee (SC-NEC) headed by the Union Home Secretary in conformity with the norms and then by a High Level Committee (HLC), chaired by the Home Minister for approving the quantum of additional assistance from the NDRF, the statement said.