Odisha govt says ‘too late’, Jena thanks PM for assistance

Bhubaneswar: With the Centre announcing an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for relief in the wake of destruction caused by cyclone Phailin, Odisha government on Saturday said the assistance came "too late" even as Union Minister Srikant Jena thanked the Centre for the move.
"Though it is too late, the Centre has announced an assistance of Rs 1,000 crore. We hope that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will give Odisha its due," state agriculture minister Debi Prasad Mishra said.
Stating that the Prime Minister's announcement of interim assistance came 26 days after cyclone Phailin devastated Odisha, Mishra said the state government had already submitted two separate memoranda for the cyclone and floods relief works worth Rs 5,832.5 crore.
The cyclone had hit Odisha coast on October 12 night.
"Above two crore people in 18 districts have been hit by the twin calamities and devastation. Therefore, the Centre should extend assistance to Odisha as it has been doing to other states," the minister said.
"I express my gratitude to the Prime Minister on announcement of an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for Odisha for relief and rehabilitation," Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertiliser Srikant Jena said in a statement.
Jena had met the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister last week and apprised them on the damages caused by the twin calamities.
Stating that he had earlier received serious complaints regarding irregularities in relief work, Jena said Central funds should be utilised in a transparent way so that the needy get immediate relief and real damaged infrastructure is rebuilt in the shortest possible time.
Jena also requested the Chief Minister to immediately convene an all-party-meeting on the relief and restoration work being carried out in the calamities-affected district.
Meanwhile, sources said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's proposed meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday to discuss about Central assistance to the state was cancelled.
The announcement of Rs 1,000 crore interim Central assistance by the Prime Minister on Saturday was the reason behind cancellation of the proposed meeting, they said.
On Friday Odisha Governor S C Jamir had written to the Prime Minister urging him for immediate sanction of the Central assistance.