Centre clears drought aid for MP, Maharashtra; bypasses Odisha

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Even though the Centre on Tuesday approved a relief package of Rs 5,083 crore for Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which declared drought in 48 districts due to deficit monsoon rainfall this year, no assistance was declared for Odisha which is also grappling with a severe drought.

Earlier, a 10-member inter-ministerial team from the Centre had declared Odisha as drought-hit and submitted its report on December 19. However, there were no discussions about providing assistance to Odisha at the high-level committee headed by Home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi yesterday.

Expressing displeasure over Central callousness, BJD spokesperson Sashibhusan Behera said, “Odisha is going through financial crisis. At such a point of time, Centre’s negligence towards the State shows its step-motherly attitude.”

Echoing Behera, Congress leader Ganeshwara Behera said, “The Centre is talking about cooperative federalism, but clearly does not believe in it. It believes in disparity. This is an injustice for the people of the State.”

Refuting the allegations made by the BJD and Congress, BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said, “After getting a report on drought like situation from Special Relief Commissioner, a Central team visited the State in this month. First, the team will submit its report to Agriculture ministry and the ministry will send it to Finance ministry.”

“The file is under process. Once it gets the approval of Finance ministry, Odisha will get a good amount of financial assistance,” Sharma added.

As per the report of the State Agriculture department, out of a total of 2,248 villages in Kalahandi district, 1,642 villages spread over 234 gram panchayats have been affected by drought this year. The report has also revealed that 49,304 hectares of paddy and 21,743 hectares of non-paddy crops have been damaged due to erratic monsoon.

Notably, the Odisha government had submitted a memorandum seeking an interim assistance of Rs.1,687.561 crore and later submitted another memorandum seeking additional assistance of Rs.511.507 crore to mitigate the drought situation in the State.

However, the meeting decided to provide an assistance of Rs 3,050 crore to Maharashtra and Rs 2,033 crore to Madhya Pradesh from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) without any discussion about Odisha.

Among others Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, Vice-Chairman NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and senior officers of the Ministries of Home, Finance and Agriculture were present during the meeting.