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Reduction in drought assistance a clerical error: Odisha SRC

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 17:

With politics over Centre’s drought assistance to Odisha getting more and more complicated, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra today made it clear that the deduction has been made because of a clerical error.

Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra SRC

“This has happened because of a clerical error on Centre’s part. I have sent them a letter on February 5 explaining the correct numbers and awaiting a reply. Whatever mistake has been committed should be sorted out as soon as possible,” said Mohapatra speaking to reporters.

Notably, even though the Centre had announced Rs 815 crore financial assistance for Odisha drought in first phase, the Ministry of Home Affairs on January 22 wrote to the State Government stating that the drought assistance has been revised to Rs 600.52 crore.

The Ministry attempted to justify the move by stating that the Odisha Government’s State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) has Rs 428 crore left from the previous year. As per the guidelines of 14th Finance Commission, the Center needs to deduct 50 percent of that fund – which works out to be Rs 214 crore.

“My letter clearly mentioned that only Rs 23.41 crore is left in SDRF. The Centre should deduct only Rs 11.70 crore and release the remaining Rs 803 crore. However, we haven’t received anything at all,” SRC Mohapatra explained.

Odisha politics, on the other hand, went abuzz over the issue as BJD accused BJP led Union Government of apathy.

“The State Government has been sending them letters one after another. We have even sent them the correct calculations but haven’t received any communication back from them. How much more time do they need? This is a gross apathy of the Centre towards Odisha,” said BJD’s Deb.

Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra attempted to defend his party.

“The money has not been deducted as it is being made out to be. It is unfair to accuse so. It is a calculation error and the State Government has not been able to understand it,” said BJP’s Mohapatra.