Odisha protests reduction in drought assistance

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government has strongly protested the Centre’s decision to slash the drought assistance by Rs 214 crore.

The Centre had announced financial assistance of Rs 815 crore for Odisha in 2015 as 28 of the total 30 districts were affected by the drought.

However, the Ministry of Home Affairs, in a letter to the state government on January 22 this year stated that it would provide drought assistance of Rs 600.52 crore as against earlier announced Rs 815 crore.

Justifying the reduction in assistance, the Home Ministry stated that Rs 215 crore was pending by the state government from the previous year for which it decided to cut 20 percent of the assistance from the announced amount.

The state government in its reply on February 5 this year demanded immediate assistance to the drought-hit farmers of the state.

A revenue department official said the Centre had been requested to provide the total assistance without deducting the assistance from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said the manner in which the Centre has revised its drought assistance for the state shows gross apathy of the Centre towards the state.

Opposition Congress also criticised the Centre for reducing the drought assistance to the state, which faced farmers’ suicide due to loan burden and crop loss.

OPCC spokesman Ganeswar Behera said it is a mockery of the Centre towards the drought situation in Odisha.
Notably, the state government had demanded Rs 2344 crore from Centre as drought assistance.