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Cyclone Amphan | NDRF relief disbursed to West Bengal, Odisha

Amphan impact: Mangled remains of a car seen in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan in Kolkata on Saturday. PTI

Amphan impact: Mangled remains of a car seen in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan in Kolkata on Saturday. PTI  

The relief of ₹1,000 crore and ₹500 crore released to West Bengal and Odisha, respectively, in the wake of the damage and destruction caused by Cyclone Amphan, has been disbursed from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

Also read: Bengal seeks help from Army to restore infrastructure

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the two States on May 22, had announced an “advance assistance” of ₹1,500 crore on May 22. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be sending an Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) soon to assess the damage.

Also read: A double disaster: On a cyclone amid the coronavirus

On May 23, on the recommendation of the MHA, the Finance Ministry asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to credit the amount to the accounts of West Bengal and Odisha on grounds of “relief necessitated by natural calamity”.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said that the State had suffered 10 times the damage envisaged in the ₹1,000 crore package announced by the PM as 70% of the population was affected. More than 80 deaths have been reported so far.

NCMC meets

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, met on Monday to discuss the relief and restoration measures in West Bengal. The Chief Secretary of West Bengal Rajiva Sinha apprised the NCMC of the ground situation.

A statement by the MHA said that “while Telecom connectivity has been restored in most areas, damages to the local Power distribution network has affected the restoration of complete supply in some areas”. It said that Central agencies are deployed in these efforts with teams from neighbouring States.

The Army has been deployed in Kolkata, to help in carry out road clearances with teams of NDRF and the State government.

“Cabinet Secretary also suggested that West Bengal Government may indicate their additional requirements if any and directed officers of Central Ministries/ Agencies to work in close coordination with State Government to provide all required assistance expeditiously,” the MHA statement said.

An IMCT is required to visit the affected States to assess the damage. The MHA changed norms last year and said that IMCT could visit the affected State even before it receives a memorandum from the State.

NDRF’s allocations

The NDRF is maintained under the books of accounts of the Finance Ministry and it already has ₹22,070 crore allocated to it in the financial year 2020-21, up from ₹17,210 crore in the 2019-20 fiscal.

In 2019-20, the total amount released under the NDRF was ₹14,108.58 crore, and the funds went to eight States — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan — for various natural calamities.

As per Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the NDRF supplements the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in the SDRF. The States have to submit utilisation certificates, pending which no future allocation is made.

The SDRF is the primary fund available with State governments to meet the expenses of relief operations of an immediate nature, for a range of specified disasters. The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF allocation for general category States and Union Territories, and 90% for special category States (northeast States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir).

COVID-19 ‘disaster’

The total corpus of the SDRF is ₹28,983 crore, of which the MHA released its first installment of ₹11,092 crore to all States on April 2 in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an order issued on March 14, the MHA had notified COVID-19 as a “disaster” for the purpose of providing assistance under the SDRF. West Bengal was transferred ₹1,011 crore and Odisha ₹1,604 crore from the SDRF.

The other notified disasters are cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves.

As per the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission, the Centre’s share is to be released in two equal installments in a year. The guidelines and norms of the NDRF and SDRF are governed by the Finance Commission’s reports and money can be spent only for a notified disaster. Since the new guidelines, as per the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission, are yet to be finalised, the old guidelines will apply this financial year.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 12:29:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cyclone-amphan-ndrf-relief-disbursed-to-west-bengal-odisha/article31672776.ece

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