Rs 276.54 cr received from Centre as drought aid: SRC

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra on Monday said the State government had received Rs 427.29 crore from the Centre by way of Phailin and drought assistance on March 31.

“Out of the sanctioned amount, Rs 150.75 crore was given as Phailin aid which was due to the State government and Rs 276.54 crore as drought assistance,” Mohapatra added.

Phailin aid of Rs 399.83 crore was announced for Odisha by the Centre. But, the State has received Rs 297.75 crore till date whereas Rs 102 crore is yet to be given by the Centre, he added.

Similarly, the Centre had announced Rs 815 crore as aid for the 2015 drought in the State. However, the Centre is deducting Rs 212 crore out of the announced amount to release the drought assistance, he said.

“As per their (the Centre’s) calculation, Rs 606 crore will be given to the State as drought aid,” Mohapatra added.

“I have sent two letters asking the Centre to release the Rs 815 crore drought assistance announced by it earlier. I believe the Centre is considering our plea,” he stated.

“If need arises, the Chief Minister will also write to the Centre asking for Rs 815 crore,” he said, adding that the State is having negative balance as it has spent a lot of money to face the drought situation.

Meanwhile, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati reacted to the revelation, saying, “When farmers are committing suicide in Odisha, the Centre is providing a paltry amount to the State. Despite this, the chief minister is silent. I believe BJD and BJP are hands in glove. Farmers’ suicide is not a good sign for Odisha and the state government should pressurize and try to get the rest of the amount.”

Pratap Jena, BJD spokesperson, said, “The Centre had promised drought assistance of Rs 815 crore. However, Rs 276 crore has been given and that too very late. Poll-bound states are getting crores of rupees whereas Odisha is getting precious little. This very is unfortunate. The rest of the amount should be given to the State immediately.”

In a veiled attack on the SRC, senior BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan said, “Once utilization certificate is sent by the State, the centre will sanction money. In case of Phailin, money came in four phases. After the utilization certificate is sent, funds will be given to the State in the next phase. There is no need to politicise it. Besides, why the Special Relief Commissioner was silent about Rs 47 crore which was given to the State on account of Phailin? The officials should clarify it.”

He added, “The State government has not yet distributed Rs 1,000 crore among farmers as announced by the Chief Minister to mitigate drought.”