The Centre on Tuesday approved the release of over Rs 4,432 crore to three states for the damage caused by natural calamities during the last financial year, PTI reported.
Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac pointed out that the state, one of the worst affected last year, was conspicuously missing from the list.
The home ministry said a high-level committee, headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, approved additional central assistance of Rs 3338.22 crore to Odisha for the damage caused by Cyclone Fani, Rs 1029.39 crore to Karnataka for drought and Rs 64.49 crore to Himachal Pradesh for avalanches and hailstorm during 2018-19.
The funds will be disbursed from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
Controversy over 2018 funds
The funds have been a bone of contention between the Centre and the state since the 2018 floods in Kerala, the worst to hit the state in a century. Nearly 400 people died in the disaster.
Just this week, Thomas Isaac said that Centre was stifling Kerala by denying permission for more loans and cutting its tax share.
Following the 2018 floods, the Centre provided Rs 2,904 crore to the state, Manorama reports.
However, on August 13, Union MoS V Muraleedharan alleged the state had not used Rs 1500 crore of the allotted amount.
He also reportedly told The NewsMinute, “I was told by the Union Minister of State for Home that when he asked the Kerala Chief Minister if he was happy with the Centre’s response, Pinarayi Vijayan remarked, this is enough.”
On August 14, the Kerala CM denied saying this.
“I haven’t said central aid is enough to union MoS for home, Nityananda Rai, MoS had called. I couldn’t follow his Hindi. So we arranged for my secretary to speak to his secretary. We haven’t said central aid is enough,” he told reporters.
He also said that money for long-term projects, like rebuilding the state, could not be expected to be spent within a year.
The Congress has also accused the BJP government at the Centre of indulging in “favouritism” while distributing flood-related funds, allocating only Rs 3,000 crore as relief package when the state had witnessed Rs 10,000 crore in losses in the 2018 floods. “The BJP is indulging in politics of favouritism, partisanship even while distributing funds to flood-affected states,” Congress national spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said.
Last year, the state government raised Rs 4,016 crore through contributions to the CM’s Distress Relief Fund. On August 1, the Kerala government imposed a one percent flood cess on the sale of 928 commodities to raise Rs 1200 crore for the rebuilding of roads ravaged by the floods.
Financial aid announced by Kerala govt this year
For this year, the Kerala government has announced a flood relief package with an immediate financial aid of up to Rs 10,000 each for families affected by the floods and rain this year. The death toll for the 2019 floods is 121.
Pinarayi said a sum of Rs 4 lakh will be given to those whose houses had been fully damaged or had become uninhabitable and Rs 10 lakh to those who had lost their houses as well as land in the rain and landslides.
Isaac said that while several agencies had promised Rs 7,000 crore of the Rs 30,000 crore required to rebuild Kerala, the state’s borrowing limit had not been increased, Manorama reported.