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Phailin aid on Odisha MLAs’ lips

Bhubaneswar, June 16: Members cutting across party affiliations today in the Odisha Assembly expressed resentment over the delay in extending financial assistance to the Phailin-affected people of the state.

The storm-induced floods that struck the state on October 12 last year had ravaged as many as 19 districts. Subsequently, 13 districts were affected by floods between October 21 and 26.

The BJD had accused the UPA-led government at the Centre of step-motherly treatment towards the state. The then revenue minister, S.N. Patro, had come under severe criticism for telling the House that the Centre had not given any money to the state.

Purna Chandra Sethy, BJD legislator from Ganjam, today said the coastal district was worst affected due to the Phailin and subsequent floods. However, the affected people had not received the assistance for crop loss.

K. Surya Rao, Congress MLA from Paralakhemundi in neighbouring Gajapati district, too, said people in his district had not received any assistance.

Pramila Mallick, BJD MLA from Jajpur, wanted to know whether the assessment of crop loss had been complete and when the compensation would be disbursed.

Disaster management minister Bijayshree Routray said revised crop cutting report had reached the department recently and payment of compensation would be made accordingly. Initially, the assessment reports sent by the districts appeared to be exaggerated.

He assured the members that he had instructed the officials to make the assessment of house damage and disburse house building assistance, according to the norms.

The minister said the state government had sought Rs 5,832.50 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund for relief and restoration following Phailin and subsequent floods. Besides, it had also asked for an interim relief of Rs 1,500 crore from the Centre.

The state government has received financial assistance of Rs 750 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund and another Rs 250 crore as central share of the State Disaster Response Fund, he said.

Apart from it, a sum of Rs 18.51 crore has been received from National Rural Drinking Water Programme for repair of affected drinking water projects, said the minister.

By end of March, funds to the tune of Rs 364.06 crore were provided to the affected districts and another Rs 1,015.53 crore to various line departments, he said.

Deputy Speaker

BJD MLA from Baripada Sananda Marandi was today formally elected as deputy Speaker of the Assembly. Marandi was the Speaker in the previous Assembly.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today moved a proposal to this effect and it was passed by a voice vote. However, the Opposition said it would have been better if the ruling party had taken the Opposition into confidence.

After being elected as the deputy Speaker, Marandi, the tribal leader, thanked the chief minister for reposing faith on him. “My duty is to give both the ruling party and the Opposition equal opportunity during the discussion.”