Flood Relief Controversies: Kerala excluded and asked to pay for rice; false figures alleged in Karnataka
The Centre has approved the release of funds for flood relief. But Kerala, one of the most flood affected states, has been excluded. The state has also been asked to settle its bills with the Food Corporation of India for rice released as flood relief this year. Meanwhile, the former CM of Karnataka has claimed that the figures of funds released to Karnataka are inflated.
The Centre on Monday approved the release of Rs 5,908.56 crore to seven states, including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam, as assistance for the damage caused due to various calamities last year.
The Home Ministry, in a statement, said the decision was taken at a meeting of a high-level committee (HLC), chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The HLC approved additional central assistance of Rs 5908.56 crore to seven states from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) of which Rs 616.63 crore will be given 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 or landslides or cloudburst during the 2019 southwest monsoon, the statement said.
Earlier, the central government has released an interim financial assistance of Rs 3,200 crore to four states -- Rs 1,200 crore to Karnataka, Rs 1,000 crore to Madhya Pradesh, Rs 600 crore to Maharashtra and Rs 400 crore to Bihar.
During 2019-20, the government has released Rs 8,068.33 crore to 27 states as central share from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
The central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been providing full support to states by providing timely logistics and financial resources to supplement efforts of the state governments to deal with the situation effectively in the wake of natural calamities, the statement said.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was present in the meeting, along with senior officers of the ministries of Home Affairs, Finance, Agriculture and NITI Aayog.
Figures Fake in Karnataka?
Accusing the BJP of running a "fake news factory" at full potential, former chief minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said according to reports only Rs 669 crore of additional flood relief funds is being released by the Centre for the state as opposed to the ruling party's claim of Rs 1,869.85 crore.
Reacting to his attack, the State BJP unit, without clarifying on the actuals of the amount being released, said it believed in speaking the truth and not spreading lies.
Siddaramaiah, leader of the opposition in the state assembly, tweeted:
Reports from State govt officials tells that only ₹669 Cr of addl funds are released in 2nd installment as opposed to the claim of ₹ 1870 Cr by @BJP4Karnataka leaders.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) January 7, 2020
At a time when manufacturing industries are closing, BJP's fake news factory is running at full potential!! https://t.co/AG7Ly7aayM
Calling BJP leaders "devotees of the God of lies," he said in another tweet that Prime Minister Narendra Modi released an additional Rs 669.85 crore moved by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa's plea, taking the total amount to Rs 1,869.85 crore.
He said it was funny that they were attempting to depict the total relief amount as 1200+1869.85 equalling to Rs 3,069.85 crore.
Siddaramiahs tweet was in response to Karnataka BJPs tweet last night claiming that the High-Level Committee (HLC) chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah has approved the release of Rs 1869.85 crore as central assistance to the state towards flood relief.
This was in addition to Rs 1200 crore already released by the Centre in October 2019, the BJP unit had said.
On Monday, the HLC had approved additional central assistance to seven states affected by floods last year, from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), including Karnataka.
While a PIB release states that Rs 1869.85 crore was approved for Karnataka, according to sources in the state government the figure was inclusive of Rs 1,200 crore released in October.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa while expressing confidence that more funds will be released in later stages, maintained that Rs 1869 crore has been released in addition to Rs 1,200 crore earlier, and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"...funds will never be enough, they (central government) will release in stages, they have released such big amount- earlier Rs 1200 crore, now again Rs 1869 crore- I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for it," he told reporters.
Revenue Minister R Ashoka said the state government will press for more funds in the days to come, and the state government will fulfil promises made to those hit by floods.
Karnataka faced two spells of unprecedented rains and floods last year, resulting in widespread damage to life and property, following which the state government had submitted a report to the centre claiming loss was to the tune of about Rs 38,000 crore.
Reacting to Siddaramaiah's attack of "fake news factory" against it, the state BJP tweeted "Ayyo @siddaramaiah Avare, We surrender to You as we are incapable of running Fake News Factory like You or @INCIndia. We believe in speaking the Truth like Gandhiji, not spreading lies like Goebbels. Kannadigas still remember the "Lies Bhagya (a scheme)" you gave them as CM from 2013-18."
Kerala Excluded, Asked to Reimburse Costs of Rice Granted As Relief in 2018-19
Kerala does not feature in the seven states granted flood relief, despite having been affected by floods two years in a row.
This year, the state had demanded over Rs 2,100 crore to deal with the damage caused by heavy rains and landslips that claimed 120 lives and led to widespread destruction of property in northern Kerala. However, the Centre has chosen to ignore this.
In a letter dated January 6, the FCI has asked the state to settle the bill towards the cost of 89,450 tonnes of rice provided as flood relief during the 2018-19 floods. The letter was addressed to the state Disaster Management Authority.
Furthermore, the Food Corporation of India has asked Kerala to pay Rs 205 crore for the rice allotted as flood relief during 2018-19.
This comes against the backdrop of Kerala being the first state in India to pass a resolution rejecting the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The CPI, a major ally in the ruling Left government in the state, alleged that the denial of aid to Kerala shows the "narrow-minded political stand" of the centre.
"When the centre yesterday allotted Rs 5,908 crore to the seven states for dealing with damage from various natural calamities, the committee headed by Union Minister Amit Shah refused to allot even a single rupee to Kerala.
The state was also denied any assistance when an interim aid was given to four states earlier," CPI state chief Kanam Rajendran said in a release.