Odisha protests cut in Central drought aid
Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has vehemently protested the decision of the Centre to cut about 20 percent (Rs 214.48 crore) of the drought assistance it had announced for the state late last year.
Official sources said the Union Home ministry, in a letter to the state government on January 22 this year, has informed that it would provide drought assistance of Rs 600.52 crore as against Rs 815 crore it had announced earlier.
Besides, the letter has also stated that the Centre would provide the drought assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
In response to the letter, the state government had put up its protest through a letter to the ministry on February 5 demanding immediate assistance to the drought-hit farmers of the state.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to attend the Krushak Samavesh in Bargrah on February 21, the ruling BJD and the opposition Congress have criticised the Centre for its gross apathy towards Odisha.
“The state government is yet to receive Rs 815 crore drought assistance from the Centre. We had requested the Centre in a letter on February 5 this year to provide the total assistance without deducting the assistance from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). We are yet to get any response from the Centre till date. But the manner in which the Centre has revised its drought assistance for the state, we can say this is a gross apathy of the Centre towards the state,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb told OTV today.
Supporting the contention of the BJD, Congress leader Ganeswar Behera said it is a mockery of the Centre towards the drought situation in Odisha.
“It is the responsibility of the state government to put pressure on the Centre. I don’t blame the state government as the Chief Minister has personally requested the Prime Minister to provide the assistance to the drought-hit farmers. The Congress strongly condemns the callousness of the Centre towards Odisha on this issue,” Congress leader Ganeswar Behera told the media.
Asked about the matter, state BJP president Basant Panda said may be the Centre, after a re-evaluation, has decided to revise the drought assistance to the state.
“The leaders of the ruling government and the Chief Minister should know how the state government has presented its demand before the Centre,” he added.