Centre's snub on flood relief

The Centre has dealt a blow to the state's hope for adequate compensation for the disastrous floods of 2017, despite claims of "double engine government" (same alliance in power in Patna and Delhi) and NaMo-Nitish friendship. Bihar has received just Rs 1,200 crore from the Centre against a demand of Rs 7,636 crore as compensation to restore basic infrastructure - such as roads, drains, bridges and embankments - and providing relief to the victims of the floods that hit the state's northern districts in August last year and affected 1.72 crore people.

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 28.05.18
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Chief minister Nitish Kumar during a flood survey last year

Patna: The Centre has dealt a blow to the state's hope for adequate compensation for the disastrous floods of 2017, despite claims of "double engine government" (same alliance in power in Patna and Delhi) and NaMo-Nitish friendship. Bihar has received just Rs 1,200 crore from the Centre against a demand of Rs 7,636 crore as compensation to restore basic infrastructure - such as roads, drains, bridges and embankments - and providing relief to the victims of the floods that hit the state's northern districts in August last year and affected 1.72 crore people.

This, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise to provide "all possible assistance" to Bihar in the wake of the floods and chief minister Nitish Kumar expressing hope that the state will get disaster assistance from the Centre this time.

The development also belies Nitish's repeated remarks that he joined the NDA for the development and welfare of the state.

What is surprising is that the Centre's snub was kept under wraps with nobody from the state government speaking up against it. State ministers are pleading helplessness, while senior government officials are evading the issue that has the potential to snowball into a major controversy with .

"We have got something around Rs 1,700 crore in compensation against our memorandum. What can we do? It was decided there (at the Centre) that only this much will be given," disaster management department (DMD) minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav told The Telegraph.

However, the central government has deducted from the amount the Rs 500 crore immediate relief announced by the Prime Minister during his aerial survey of the flood-affected districts on August 22 last year.

"The compensation amount vis-à-vis our memorandum stands at Rs 1,200 crore," said principal secretary (disaster management) Pratyaya Amrit.

Another senior official in the state government said that the compensation amount decision was taken by a high-powered committee chaired by the Union home minister, but was way below the expectations.

"The Centre does some katauti (deduction) in compensation claims, but the 2017 floods were like flash floods and wreaked extensive havoc," the official said. "In fact the state government provided more than Rs 2,600 crore from the Bihar Contingency Fund for 'gratuitous relief', including food, food grain and Rs 6,000 to 38 lakh flood-affected families. It was a fit case for a special package from the Centre, but nothing happened."

Contacted, chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said: "We had demanded and even put pressure on the central government for adequate compensation."

He refused to reveal whether the state has lodged any protest.