Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 2:
The Odisha government has approved eight disasters as state-specific disasters in addition to 12 other disasters approved by the Union government under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
The eight disasters that have been declared as state specific disasters by the state government in an order issued on Monday are lightning, heat wave, whirlwind, tornado, heavy rain, boat accident (other than during flood), drowning (other than during flood) and snakebite (other than during flood), said a release issued by the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) here today.
The state government has declared the above eight disasters as local disasters after it was approved by the State Executive Committee in its meeting held under the chairmanship of the chief secretary on April 22 this year.
People affected by these local disasters with the exception of heat wave will now get the same relief assistance as prescribed for 12 other disasters approved by the Government of India under the State Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Response Fund.
Such relief assistance will include ex-gratia to the next of kin in case of death, assistance in case of permanent incapacitation or injury, food assistance, assistance for clothing and utensils, assistance for replacement of milch and draught animals lost, house building assistance, etc., as applicable.
The scale of ex-gratia assistance for death due to sunstroke will be Rs 50,000 for every death.
The state government had been constantly pursuing the matter with the Union government since long for declaration of ‘lightning’ and ’heat wave’ as disasters for funding of relief expenditure for the said disasters from the SDRF.
It may be noted that as many as 1630 people died due to lightning in the state during the last five years (2010-15).
Similarly, 265 persons died due to sunstroke and 96 due to boat accident during the period.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written a number of letters to the Union government in this regard. In its Memorandum submitted to the 14th Finance Commission, the state government had made a specific request for inclusion of tornado, thunder squall, heavy rain, drowning of boats, whirlwind, gale wind, tidal disaster, lightning, heat wave, etc. in the list of disasters enabling the state to incur expenditure from SDRF on relief and restoration measures arising out of these calamities.
The state government also strongly placed its claim in this regard before the Commission through a presentation during its visit to the state on December 7, 2013.
The 14th Finance Commission accepted the above claims and recommended that up to 10 percent of the funds available under the SDRF can be used by the state governments for natural disasters that they consider to be ‘disasters’ within the local context in the state and which are not included in the notified list of disasters of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Central government accepted the above recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission and made provisions under the Revised Items & Norms of Assistance from SDRF and NDRF for the period 2015-2020 allowing expenditure by the states on state specific disasters within 10% of the annual fund allocation of the SDRF subject to the condition that the state formally listed such disasters and notified transparent norms and guidelines with approval of State Executive Committee.