#AssamFlood: No central aid since 2014

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Assam has received no central aid for flood management since 2014 apart from its share in the State Disaster Response Fundand all the bale has been put on the wrong accounting of AG office.

According to a RTI filed by  Scroll.in.  “the government of Assam has not received any assistance from the government of India during the period 2014-’18,” the state’s revenue and disaster management department said in response to a Right to Information query .

Which means the accounting probkemn has been there for past 6 years and it has not been able to be resolved. This sounds little unbeleiavable.

According to the Disaster Management Act of 2005, the State Disaster Response Fund is created with contributions from both the respective state and the Centre, with the latter generally providing 75%. But for special category states such as Assam, the central share stands at 90%.

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These are the primary funds available to states to deal with natural disasters. Assam got Rs 288.6 crore in 2014-’15, Rs 414 crore in 2015-’16, Rs 434.70 crore in 2016-’17 and Rs 456 crore in 2017-’18 from the Centre, according to the RTI response.

In case the State Disaster Response Fund falls short, the state is entitled to submit a memorandum to the Union home ministry detailing its losses and seeking additional assistance. While the memorandum does not specify the source of the additional aid, the Centre usually disburses money from the National Disaster Response Fund.

The home ministry’s data shows that Assam has not received any assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund since 2014, despite having suffered substantial human and material losses in floods that year and every year thereafter.

In 2014, when floods affected over 40 lakh people and killed almost 70 in the state, Assam submitted a memorandum seeking Rs 9,370 crore. The next year, which also saw widespread damage from floods, the state requested an additional assistance of Rs 2,100 crore. In 2016, it again sought Rs 5,038 crore to deal with the damage caused by the natural calamity. In 2017, when Assam suffered arguably the worst flooding in recent times, the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party government did not seek additional assistance even though it pegged the losses at around Rs 4,000 crore.

 Visiting the state in wake of the floods, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a relief package of Rs 2,350 crore for all flood-affected states in the North East, promising to release Rs 250 crore for Assam immediately. The money never came.

The reason apparently is an accounting error by the accountant general’s office. “The Centre allots additional funds when the State Disaster Response Funds money is low, but an accounting error by the AG’s office has resulted in our books reflecting an amount that we actually don’t have,” the senior state official explained, reports the Scroll

“Since the home ministry takes the account balance figure from the AG’s office, we have been told we are not eligible.”

The official said the error is now being rectified: “About 90% of the error has been corrected, so we should be eligible for central assistance by next year.”

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