NEW DELHI, Aug 10 - The Centre on Thursday said that Rs 100 crore has been earmarked to find a permanent solution to floods in the Northeastern region. Experts will help find a solution, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said.
The Centre proposes to fund a permanent solution to floods in the Northeast including Assam, Rijiju said in the Lok Sabha here this morning.
He was replying to a call attention motion on the problem of floods in various parts of the country. Rijiju rejected claims of the Opposition that the government has failed to respond to the �annual feature� of floods in time and that it gives little financial assistance to states to deal with the calamity.
The minister had last week ruled out the possibility of declaring the floods as a national problem and on Tuesday declared that it can at best be described as �a calamity of severe nature�.
The government has adjudged flood as a calamity of �severe nature� in terms of operational guidelines of 2015-16 for constitution and administration of the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
Rijiju said the Centre does not discriminate and two instalments of the state disaster response fund have already been given to the State.
The minister also rejected suggestions that the government�s response to floods is often delayed, saying the constant practice has been to ensure that rescue is followed by relief and rehabilitation.
Initiating the discussion, Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress alleged that the government was in deep slumber like the mythological character �Kumbhakarn� and failed to take quick action when a calamity like floods hit various parts of the country. He said as per a revised formula, the financial liability of the states has increased in tackling floods. The Centre has changed the funding pattern from 90:10 to 80:20 for Special Category States like the Northeast states. Suddenly, after the recommendations of NITI Aayog, the funding pattern has been changed. In 2016, the Water Resources Ministry issued a letter with the subject �Revised Funding Pattern for Projects Approved under the Flood Management Programme (FMP). It was known as the flagship programme of the Union Government, but after the Narendra Modi government came to power, it referred the FMP to the NITI Aayog. The new funding pattern is applied not just in the new projects, but this is done on the ongoing projects too � the projects that have been sanctioned, the projects on which DPR has been prepared and the projects that have got the Centre�s approval.
�But, the Centre shied away from its responsibility, saying �earlier I used to give 90 per cent, now I will give you 80 per cent and in the general category status, I will go from 75 per cent to 50 per cent.� Is this not shirking of responsibility?� Gogoi said. He claimed that the Centre has ignored its responsibility and even the CAG has criticised the flood management programme.
Saugata Roy of the TMC alleged that while funds for the BJP-ruled Gujarat and Assam were released, no provision was granted for West Bengal. �We feel there is political discrimination,� he said. �This year, 24 states have been affected by floods, the worst-affected being Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan and West Bengal. One thing that has been pointed out by the CAG is that India�s flood forecast capability has washed out. We have not been able to forecast the floods at all,� Roy said.
�The Prime Minister has visited Gujarat. It is alright � as his home state has been badly affected. He has also visited Assam, which is run by a government of the ruling party. It�s a good thing. The Ministers of State have visited Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. But, none of the honchos from the Centre has visited our unfortunate state of West Bengal. While the PM has announced a package for Gujarat and a package of Rs 2,000 crore for Assam and the Northeastern States, no package has been announced for West Bengal till date,� he lamented.