Special Correspondent

State seeks changes in Central norms for calamity assistance

Estimates so far showed there was destruction of crops and property worth Rs.1,000 crore besides the loss of 70 lives

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A 72-member rescue team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will reach Alappuzha on Friday to assist the State machinery in handling natural disasters, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran said here on Thursday.

He told a press conference that the team would split into groups, one camping at Alappuzha and another at Kozhikode, to be as close as possible to disaster-prone locations in the State. It would stay till the monsoon is over. Kerala has sought a review of the Central norms for sanctioning calamity relief assistance to States.

Meagre compensation

Making a special statement in the Assembly on Thursday, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said unless they were changed, States would not get reasonable compensation. A house built at a cost of Rs.2 lakh, if destroyed in a natural calamity, was now eligible for a compensation of only Rs.15,000, he said. Mr. Achuthanandan said estimates so far showed there was destruction of crops and property worth Rs.1,000 crore besides the loss of 70 lives. The State Government was certain that it would not get any substantive assistance from the Centre, howsoever hard it tried on account of the norms.

The Chief Minister said the State had submitted a memorandum to the Centre, seeking special assistance of Rs.100 crore and the Cabinet decided to submit a detailed memorandum based on the latest figures. He appreciated the support extended by the Opposition parties to the relief efforts of the State Government and appealed to all sections of people to continue to extend all possible help and cooperation to the Government in the rehabilitation effort.As many as 18,885 persons had to be moved to around 140 relief camps and free ration was given to the affected people for two weeks. The Government had released Rs.3.5 crore to the districts and was keeping the Centre posted daily about the situation, he said.

Chandy offer

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy offered all support from the Opposition for the Government’s efforts to provide relief to the rain-hit and urged the Government to focus particularly on rehabilitation of those whose homes were fully destroyed in the rain.