Assam government refutes minister’s claim on flood aid

Guwahati, Sep 4 – The Assam government has refuted union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal’s statement that the Centre has released Rs.207 crore as flood relief for the state this year.

In a statement on Friday, the state government said the Rs.207 crore released by the Centre this year was merely the first installment of the current year’s central allocation of Rs.414 crore available under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

After visiting flood-affected areas in Assam on Wednesday, Sonowal said that the Centre has already released its share of the SDRF.

After the first installment of SDRF released in May 2015, no funds, either under SDRF or under the special package, have been released to the state government to mitigate the impact of severe floods in Assam during the current financial year till now, the Assam government stated.

According to the statement, the SDRF has not only been released to Assam but also to all 26 states.

The Rs.207 crore received by Assam in May this year is merely the first installment of the central share of SDRF receivable by the state along with all other states in normal course, it stated.

According to the statement, in addition to SDRF, the Disaster Management Act has provided for giving special central assistance to any state through a separate fund called National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to deal with any situation arising out of various natural calamities.

The central government has not sanctioned any special funds under NDRF to flood-hit Assam for the current year’s floods, the statement said, adding that, in fact, the state was yet to receive the special central assistance under the NDRF for last year’s devastating floods in the state.

It said the state government undertook flood management work in critical flood-prone areas through a Flood Management Programme (FMP).

Though the state government has already released the required state share for schemes to be taken up against the FMP under the 11th Plan, the central share of Rs.257 crore is yet to be released. Similarly, the central share of Rs.1,016 crore for the FMP schemes under 12th Plan has also not been released till date.

The statement also cited Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi as criticising th role of Sonowal on various issues concerning the state.

It said that Gogoi took up the issue of special category status for north-eastern states in meeting with union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on July 11 in a meeting of chief ministers in Guwahati on July 11 in which union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and Sonowal were also present.

Sonowal took a mute stand in this regard at the meeting, the statement quoted Gogoi as saying.

Coming to the current wave of devastating floods in Assam, the chief minister said that Sonowal should pressure the Centre to release the funds due to the state government to meet the critical situation.