Post-flood Kerala, which is in the rebuilding phase, is soon set to receive a bill of Rs. 102 crore for using the Indian Air Force (IAF) planes and helicopters for the relief operations during the floods in August last year. On Monday, February 4, the Rajya Sabha was informed that the Centre has forwarded the bill to Kerala.
In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Subhash Bhamre, the Minister of State in the Defence Ministry, said that the IAF carried out 517 sorties of fixed-wing aircraft airlifting 3,787 people and 1,350 tonnes of load, and 634 sorties of helicopters airlifting 584 people and 247 tonnes of load.
“Bills of approximately Rs. 102.6 crore have been forwarded to the Kerala Government for use of IAF aircraft and helicopters for Kerala Flood relief. The recoveries for providing services of IAF aircraft and helicopters are effected from the State Government and the Administration of Union Territories,” said Bhamre in the upper house of the Parliament.
It was also informed that the Army and the Navy are preparing similar bills detailing the expenditure for assistance during the floods.
Also Read: Kerala Flood Relief: Close to 7 Lakh Persons Have Received Financial Aid, Says CM
In August last year, the state had witnessed heavy rains followed by devastating floods, which claimed the lives of more than 480 people. As many as 12 of the 14 districts were affected in the floods, 221 bridges were damaged and more than 10,000 km of roads were ruined. An estimated three lakh farmers had also been affected, even as cases of suicides had been reported from the flood-affected areas. Such bills amounting to crores would be a blow to the state, which is already facing a financial crunch to rebuild the post-flood state.
The assistance by the armed forces to the civil administration is governed by the “Instruction on aid to civil authority by the armed forces, 1970”,the minister said adding that the armed forces compile total expenditure incurred and forward the same to the state government.
“The bills duly scrutinised are forwarded by the state government to the ministry of home affairs for reimbursement,” he added.
As per the Government Accounting Rule 1990, stated by the Controller General of Accounts, it is mentioned what are the charges a state government has to pay for various services armed forces perform during natural and other calamities.
The bills are raised by the Defence Ministry for the relief and rescue operations that are undertaken by the armed forces in the state. Usually, the central government adjusts this cost while disbursing the relief package to the state, said a report by IndiaToday.
However, Kerala which would need more than Rs 31,000 crores for recovery and reconstructions following floods as per the UN report, got a meagre amount from the centre as financial assistance. On August 21, the Centre had released an amount of Rs. 600 crore for the state. Later, in November, the Centre had approved an additional Rs. 2,500 crore for the state relief and rehabilitation work.
Also Read: Kerala Needs Rs 31,000 Crore Post Floods: UN Report
Earlier also, the centre had given bills to the Kerala Government amounting to Rs. 290 crore for providing food grains as well as rescue assistance.
The state, however, is in the revival path with the collective efforts from the Left Democratic Front government and masses. But it has to be noted that the state’s demands for more funds for the rebuilding process have been denied continuously.
Meanwhile, on January 29, the Centre announced assistance of Rs. 7,214 crore to six states and Puducherry that were affected by natural disasters during 2018-19, excluding the flood-hit Kerala and Gaja-cyclone hit Tamil Nadu.
The decision was taken by a high-level committee chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and will cater to the needs of those states that have faced floods, landslides, drought, cloudburst and cyclone. Of the total, the committee has decided to provide Rs. 317.44 crore to Himachal Pradesh which had been hit by floods and landslides, Rs. 191.73 crore to Uttar Pradesh that had faced floods, Rs. 900.40 crore to drought-hit Andhra Pradesh and Rs. 127.60 crore to drought-hit Gujarat.
The drought-hit states of Karnataka and Maharashtra have been allocated Rs. 949.49 crore and Rs. 4,714.28 crore, respectively and the cyclone-hit Puducherry has also been allocated Rs. 13.09 crore.
Read More: Inclusive Budget Proposes 25 Projects to Build ‘New Kerala’