Even as questions are raised about the efficacy of the visiting National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in combating natural calamities in the district, a Rs.23.73-lakh rent bill run by them is finally being settled by the State government.

Officials of the Vengeri Agriculture Wholesale Market Society, where the NDRF team stayed during its visit in 2011-12, say the rent payment has been pending for a long time.

Located on a 10-hectare space on the outskirts of the city and one of six set up in the State by the Agriculture Department using funds given by the European Economic Commission for helping farmers market their produce, the market is the annual haunt of the visiting NDRF.

Repeated requests

“We had been making repeated requests through our Executive Committee for settlement of the forces’ accommodation expenses. They had used our dormitory and guest rooms during their stay here,” P.K. Ranjini, secretary, Vengeri Agriculture Wholesale Market Society, said. According to a one-page Government Order (GO) issued on September 13, the rent amount was sanctioned after the Kozhikode District Collector wrote two letters this year during the heights of monsoon in June and July, seeking urgent release of the pending amount.

Aid of NDRF

The letters specified that the district will require the aid of the NDRF this year too, and for them to stay on the market premises, the pending rent should be first cleared.

Rs.23.73 lakh as rent

According to the GO, the government had previously sanctioned the rent amount of Rs.23,73,955 on February 18.

But this amount, instead of being handed over to the market society by the District Administration, was simply surrendered to the government at the end of the 2012-13 financial year.

The GO directed that the amount be allotted to the District Collector from the Budget allocated to the district.

It further asks the District Administration to submit the total expense details to the Disaster Management (Revenue) department secretary.

This development comes even as the district’s long-pending demand for a permanent presence of the NDRF may finally see light following a recent communication from Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran that the Centre is agreeable to deploy three companies of the NDRF considering the increasing possibility of natural disasters in the high-range areas of the district, especially Kavilumpara and Kakkayam panchayats.

Land located in Perambra-Eravattur village coming under the Vadakara parliamentary constituency is being considered as a fit place to house the Central disaster forces.

As of now, forces are brought in from Arakkonam whenever a natural disaster occurs in the Malabar area.

Landslips had occurred near Chakkittapara panchayat and near the Kakkayam dam site this year. The district had suffered a loss to the tune of Rs.64 crore this monsoon.

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