R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 1 - Facing severe floods, the Assam government has sought an additional amount of over Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre to tide over the crisis. However, official sources claimed that there is no shortage of funds to provide relief to the flood-hit people.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the normal practice is to assess the damages after the flood water recedes and submit a detailed memorandum to the Centre on the basis of that. However, as the severity of the floods was much higher, the State government decided to send a provisional memorandum seeking extra funds.
Sources said that all the departments were asked to carry out preliminary assessment of the damages caused by floods and on the basis of that, the State government submitted a memorandum to the Centre seeking an amount of over Rs 2,000 crore. The memorandum was sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which handles the National Disaster Response Fund.
Meanwhile, the State Disaster Response Fund for the current financial year has been fixed at Rs 854 crore, of which around 90 percent would be given by the Centre and the rest is State's share. An amount of over Rs 102 crore has been released to the Deputy Commissioners to provide relief and shelter to the affected families. However, it will not be possible to rehabilitate the affected people and repair all the damages caused to the roads and bridges, embankments and other government infrastructure with the funds available with the State Disaster Response Fund and that is why the State government decided to send an interim memorandum. However, the final memorandum will be sent to the Centre after assessment of all the damages.
Meanwhile, this year, funds from the Disaster Response Fund were also used for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Official sources said that as per the guidelines following the outbreak of COVID-19, about Rs 200 crore was released to the Deputy Commissioners for construction of quarantine centres and provide other logistics. In some parts of the State, the money was also used to provide food to the inmates of the quarantine centres. However, money from the Disaster Response Fund was not used for treatment of COVID-19 patients and that was done by the Health Department from its own funds.
As the State faced severe floods and COVID-19 pandemic at the same time, the Disaster Response Fund would not be adequate to repair the damages caused and the State government is hopeful that the Centre would provide additional funds as requested by the State to tide over the crisis, sources added.