R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, June 25 - The amount earmarked under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) has been increased in the current financial year and the State Government has already released funds to the Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers in advance to provide immediate relief to the affected people whenever floods occur in any part of the State. Meanwhile, the Minister in charge of Development of North East Region (DONER), Jitendra Singh is scheduled to visit the State tomorrow to review the flood situation.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the SDRF for the current financial year is Rs 532 crore, of which the State’s share would be 10 per cent. Last year, the SDRF was Rs 507 crore. Sources said that the Centre normally releases its share in two installments and the first installment would be released in a day or two, while, the second installment is normally released in December.
However, as the release of the amount by the Centre is guaranteed, the State Government has released funds to the DCs and SDOs in advance to provide relief to the affected people whenever floods occur and the amounts are released on the basis of the past experience of the natural calamity. So far, an amount of Rs 60 crore has been released to the DCs and SDOs and sources said that extra money would be released immediately whenever required. Citing such an example, sources revealed that following the recent flash floods and landslides in West Karbi Anglong area, additional funds were required to engage workers to clear the landslide affected areas and to pay ex-gratia amount to the next of kin of those killed and the money was released within 24 hours.
As per the guidelines of the SDRF, an amount of Rs four lakh is paid as ex gratia to the next of kin of each of the persons killed in natural calamities and all the DCs have been instructed to make the payment within 48 hours. However, sometimes the payment can be delayed by a day or two as certain official formalities like obtaining the post-mortem examination report, reports from police, etc., take time. However, all-out efforts would be made to make the payments as soon as possible.
Sources said that this year, there would be no shortage of rice to provide relief to the affected people as the Centre has already released 15,000 tonnes of rice through the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the same is stored in the godowns of the Corporation spread across all over the State. The DCs will only have to send their requisition slips to obtain rice from the FCI godowns. Last year, around 10,000 tonnes of rice was required for providing relief and the amount stored has been increased this year to ensure that there is no shortage of rice.