Cyclone Titli: BJD-BJP lock horns over central assistance

Bhubaneswar: A day after Odisha sought an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore towards relief and restoration work in cyclone Titli-affected districts, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha locked horns over Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s statements.

BJD leaders today came down heavily on Pradhan for his remarks that Centre’s contribution is more towards relief and restoration works in Cyclone Titli-affected districts.

During his visit to the cyclone and flood-hit Gajapati district yesterday, Pradhan had criticized Odisha government over disaster management during cyclone Titli.

“Lot of places in the affected-districts do not have electricity, road connectivity and there is also mismanagement in relief distribution. The Centre is contributing 90% to disaster fund for relief work & Odisha govt should ensure proper distribution,” Pradhan had said yesterday.

Responding to Pradhan’s allegations, BJD spokesperson Sulochana Das stated that it seems that the Union Minister doesn’t believe in the federal structure.

“In a federal structure, there is coordination between the Centre and the States and it seems that the Union Minister doesn’t believe in it. We want to ask whether Modi will release the funds from his own pocket,” Das said.

BJP general-secretary Prithviraj Harichandan responded “If attributing central assistance as Modi’s money is wrong, then is it right when Naveen Patnaik claims that he provides subsidised rice from his own house?”

Harichandan further targeted Odisha government for massive irregularities in distribution of relief in several parts of the State.

“The way relief operations are going on, it is unfortunate and ineligible persons are getting relief materials,” Harichandan added.

Congress on the other hand has demanded that oil companies should adopt villages ravaged by cyclone and floods and speed up rehabilitation measures in their respective jurisdictions.

It is pertinent to mention here that life in cyclone Titli and flood-affected districts is yet to normalise even after a week of the natural calamity. As per preliminary estimates, the Electricity department has sustained a loss of Rs 633 crores due to uprooting of electric poles and snapping of cables in different affected areas.

A whopping Rs 609 crore will be spent on restoration of roads, water supply and repair of school buildings. The Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) has directed the district Collectors to submit a detailed report on the losses caused by cyclone Titli and subsequent floods.

“All departments have been asked to submit reports on the damage and requirement of funds so that assistance can be released,” said Joint Relief Commissioner, Pravat Ranjan Mohapatra.

As per norms under the relief code, Odisha government can use Rs 1,512 crore from the State Disaster Fund for relief and rehabilitation works.

However, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has written to PM Narendra Modi for release of an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for carrying out relief and rehabilitation works in Cyclone Titli-affected districts.