GUWAHATI, Aug 26 - Despite facing devastating floods last year, Assam did not get any extra fund from the Centre till date. However, there is no shortage of funds as of now to provide relief to the flood-affected people in the State this year as the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) is not yet exhausted.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that for the current financial year, the SDRF for Assam has been fixed at Rs 460 crore, 10 per cent of which is to be paid by the State Government and the rest of the money is to be paid by the Centre. The Centre has already released the first instalment of the money and the Union Minister for Development of North East Region (DoNER) yesterday announced that the second instalment would be released soon.
Sources said that with the SDRF, the State Government has to provide relief materials to the affected people in natural calamities, while the rehabilitation grant is also given from the fund. The restoration of roads and bridges as well as embankments is also done from the fund, but no new project can be taken up. Earlier, erosion was not in the list of calamities, but from this year onwards, the Centre has allowed each State to include three State-specific calamities in the list. After getting the approval, the Assam Government included erosion, lightening and storm in the list of calamities. From this year onwards, the erosion-affected people of the State will also get relief and rehabilitation grant from the SDRF.
Moreover, the Finance Commission has decided to increase the grants paid to the affected people. Earlier, each next of kin of the persons killed in natural calamities used to get Rs 1.50 lakh, but from this year, the amount has been increased to Rs 4 lakh. Similarly, the persons whose houses are completely damaged in the calamities will get Rs 95,000 each.
Sources asserted that there is no shortage of funds to provide relief to the affected people and all the Deputy Commissioners have been directed to procure food items even from the open market wherever required. The problem would come after floods when the restoration work is to start.
Sources said that whenever any State cannot cope with the damages caused by calamities with the SDRF, extra funds are provided from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). For getting funds from the NDRF, the State Government has to submit a detailed report, following which the Centre sends an inter-departmental committee to assess the situation on the ground. The report of the committee is again reviewed by the Centre before releasing funds from the NDRF.
Last year, the Assam Government sent a detailed report seeking Rs 2,500 crore. The Central team, which assessed the situation, recommended Rs 414 crore, while the Centre agreed to pay additional amount of Rs 387 crore. But till date, the Centre has not released the money.