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Centre not to declare flood as national problem: Rijiju

By Kalyan Barooah
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NEW DELHI, July 27 - Notwithstanding the pressure from the Congress, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has ruled out the possibility of the Centre declaring the flood problem as national calamity.

The Minister was replying to a Calling Attention Motion in the Rajya Sabha moved by Ripun Bora on the situation arising out of the recent floods in various parts of the country, including Assam. Rijiju dwelt at length on disaster mitigation and the role of NDRF, though he clarified the Centre�s position on the release of funds under SDRF to the State.

About the demands pressed by Congress MPs � Ripun Bora and Bhubaneswar Kalita � to declare floods as a national problem, he said all problems are national problems. Kalita, who was on the Chair, presiding over the proceedings, suggested that the government at the Centre should declare floods as a national calamity.

He said that in Assam, where he led a Central team to assess the flood damages on the direction of the Prime Minister, the situation was grim and serious. By declaring the floods merely as a national problem is not enough. The action of the government should be to take action on the ground according to the situation.

Rijiju said that Assam, during the last three to four years, have been hit by floods every year, though he acknowledged that this year it was serious. But, he added, there was no money pending with the Centre. He said he met the Assam Chief Minister, and was accompanied by two State ministers when he visited two districts and seven revenue circles.

Explaining the procedure of the release of Central funds, he said the Centre, on every April 1, releases funds to states and depending upon the situation at any given point of time, the second instalment is released. Then, an inter-ministerial team assesses the damage caused by any natural disaster. It is not easy to assess the situation at one go. He then went on to explain the role of NDRF and its preparedness. Amid interruptions, Rijiju said that everyone should be clear that when disasters hit, there will be effects on the ground.

Denying that the Government of India has been selective in its approach, he said that Rs 500 crore is given to each state for disaster relief. There is money still left with the states, he said.

�The Government of India is fully committed that nobody suffers on account of lack of assistance from the Centre,� he claimed.

Replying to allegations that Centre washes its hands off during natural disaster, Rijiju said that the Centre cannot take over the district administration. But, during the last two to three years, the states have increased their capacity, he added.

Earlier, an agitated Ripun Bora said the former chief minister has submitted a memorandum and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also submitted a memorandum demanding Rs 10,000 crore. His demand has also not been sanctioned, he rued.

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Centre not to declare flood as national problem: Rijiju

NEW DELHI, July 27 - Notwithstanding the pressure from the Congress, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has ruled out the possibility of the Centre declaring the flood problem as national calamity.

The Minister was replying to a Calling Attention Motion in the Rajya Sabha moved by Ripun Bora on the situation arising out of the recent floods in various parts of the country, including Assam. Rijiju dwelt at length on disaster mitigation and the role of NDRF, though he clarified the Centre�s position on the release of funds under SDRF to the State.

About the demands pressed by Congress MPs � Ripun Bora and Bhubaneswar Kalita � to declare floods as a national problem, he said all problems are national problems. Kalita, who was on the Chair, presiding over the proceedings, suggested that the government at the Centre should declare floods as a national calamity.

He said that in Assam, where he led a Central team to assess the flood damages on the direction of the Prime Minister, the situation was grim and serious. By declaring the floods merely as a national problem is not enough. The action of the government should be to take action on the ground according to the situation.

Rijiju said that Assam, during the last three to four years, have been hit by floods every year, though he acknowledged that this year it was serious. But, he added, there was no money pending with the Centre. He said he met the Assam Chief Minister, and was accompanied by two State ministers when he visited two districts and seven revenue circles.

Explaining the procedure of the release of Central funds, he said the Centre, on every April 1, releases funds to states and depending upon the situation at any given point of time, the second instalment is released. Then, an inter-ministerial team assesses the damage caused by any natural disaster. It is not easy to assess the situation at one go. He then went on to explain the role of NDRF and its preparedness. Amid interruptions, Rijiju said that everyone should be clear that when disasters hit, there will be effects on the ground.

Denying that the Government of India has been selective in its approach, he said that Rs 500 crore is given to each state for disaster relief. There is money still left with the states, he said.

�The Government of India is fully committed that nobody suffers on account of lack of assistance from the Centre,� he claimed.

Replying to allegations that Centre washes its hands off during natural disaster, Rijiju said that the Centre cannot take over the district administration. But, during the last two to three years, the states have increased their capacity, he added.

Earlier, an agitated Ripun Bora said the former chief minister has submitted a memorandum and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also submitted a memorandum demanding Rs 10,000 crore. His demand has also not been sanctioned, he rued.