Flood-ravaged Kerala's wait for full central aid package could be long

A supply truck transporting boats to flooded areas moves through a water-logged road in Aluva | Reuters photo
Flood-ravaged Kerala may have to wait a few months to get the complete financial aid package from the Centre as the process of assessing the extent of damage and fund release is time-consuming, officials said.

After the initial release of funds, the Central government follows certain rules and guidelines before awarding the final aid to any state for a natural calamity, said a home ministry official, privy to such circumstances. The Centre has so far released Rs 6 billion for Kerala, which witnessed its worst flood in a century. The death toll in Kerala floods has touched 293 since August 8 while 15 people are still missing.

According to the existing guidelines on disaster relief funds, the central government's contribution to the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) is 75 per cent for general category states and 90 per cent for special category states of hilly regions.

But the amount is released in each financial year in two instalments — in June and December.

However, the central government, upon being satisfied that exigencies of a particular calamity so warrant, may recommend an earlier release of the central share but that too up to just 25 per cent of the funds due to the state in the following year.

But this release will be adjusted against the instalments of the subsequent year.

Similarly, for getting relief from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), the state government will have to first submit a memorandum showing sector-wise damage with proper justification for requirement of funds and then it is assessed whether a case for additional assistance from NDRF is made out under the existing guidelines.

This itself is a time-consuming exercise for a state which is still trying to recover from the disaster, the official said.

An official statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was issued on August 23 giving details of the flood relief measures taken by the central government in Kerala, noted that the submission of the memorandum by the state will take time.

The memorandum from the state government, when comes, will be examined to assess the likely requirement of funds as per items and norms of expenditure under the SDRF/NDRF.

If the preliminary examination reveals that there are adequate funds in SDRF for providing relief as per norms, the state would be advised accordingly. If the preliminary examination reveals that the state is in need of assistance, a central team will be deputed for making an on-the-spot assessment, the guidelines say.

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