Lok Sabha

December 2, 2015

Sudip Banerjee speaks in Lok Sabha regarding flood situation in the country

The flood, as well as drought, situation have affected our country. Huge areas are under flood and half of India is drought affected. 302 out of 614 districts are reeling under drought, highest since 2009. And 40% of India’s different areas are now affected with flood. Flood has very badly affected Tamil Nadu and west Bengal also.

Madam, I raised this issue during the all party meeting convened by you that on 25th November. The State Government had asked for a relief of Rs 6000 crore. How much money has been allotted by the center to fight back this situation? On the very subject very promptly Venkaiah Naidu Ji assured me that he will send me the reply.

Accordingly, he has sent me a reply:

“Dear Sudip Da, the information is Bengal got the entire amount. SDRF Rs 367 crore has been released for this year. Further details will be available tomorrow afternoon. I will possibly let you know the further information.”

But when the State Government asked for Rs 6000 crore, how SDRF released only 367 crore? I want to know what is the system of assessment? How does the Central team assess the situation, gravity of the situation? They go together with the state government for assessment of the situation. But when they take the decision they take it of their own which we broadly disown.

Madam, Tamil Nadu no doubt is worse affected. Let them get more money. We have full support. What I hard yesterday their demand was much higher than what has been sanctioned. This is the reason why we are telling that the situation is becoming very difficult to be tackled by state’s own monitory fund.

Madam, the Central Government is not releasing the money on time and State Government is not capable to tackle the situation with their own sources. Moreover, funds for various central schemes have been stopped. Then again after July there is no rain in the country except a few places. So, drought is equally affecting the country.

West Bengal is a sufferer of both flood and drought. Four districts, particularly Bardhaman, Bankura, Purulia & West Medinipur, are affected with flood. Unprecedented rainfall one side, and drought on the other side is actually a serious condition.

We propose that farmers and flood affected people be provided with drinking water, food, alternative seeds for Sech Prakalpa. On the other side, DVC is not giving water. Tenughat of West Bengal project has no water. How can the situation be overcome? So I would request the Central Government to give necessary instruction to release DVC water for the purpose in consultation for the State Government at the earliest possible time.

Madam due to flood and drought very poor people, specially farmers, lose their income and assets and they face a distress. They become much poorer. The government has a huge stock of food grains with Food Corporation of India. I would also suggest that FCI can supply more amount of food grains to the flood affected areas or to the drought affected areas.

Madam, in deficit monsoon, death of farmers is very much alarming. Central assistance is also being reduced for ICDS projects on the earlier stage, the Central Government used to give the larger portion of the funds to run the ICDS projects but now it has been reversed wherein the state will have to bear the maximum portion and the Centre will pay the minimum portion; it is another burden on the shoulder of the state government.

We tell here again and again that West Bengal government has to repay a loan and debt of Rs 2,20,000 crore. And for that Rs 28,000 crore is taken away by the central government annually. So we have categorically stated that the present government is in a precarious condition.  The state government which ruled for 34 years had taken a loan, and the fresh government which has taken over has to bear the burden.

The Centre can take some positive steps through the centrally aided projects during such situations like this. In the MGNREGS, we can include additional days of work. Diesel subsidy scheme can be started for farmers of the affected areas. Enhancement of ceiling on seed subsidy, interventions for saving horticulture crops, implementation of additional fodder development programs, these are all central schemes and I want to know how they are rising to the occasion. What is the progress of allocation of Rashtriya Krishi Yojana? I want to know about the availability of seeds and other inputs for the Kharif month of 2015, crisis management plan for drought in the year 2015.

These sort of crises should be handled with a certain amount of farsightedness and imagination which requires advance planning. Global Warming is equally becoming a part of these weather changes. The whole world is becoming conscious. In Paris there was a huge convention where these issues have been consulted and discussed.

Regarding the functioning of the SDRF, State Disaster Response Fund, there is a system where the central government gives some money to the state government in advance. But if the flood or drought occurs on a large scale then the government has to spend it primarily. The state government of West Bengal has already spent more than Rs 1000 crore in spite of the huge financial crisis. They have asked for Rs 6000 crore but only Rs 367 crores has been released and the state has not received it. And I came to know about this release order from Venkaiah Naidu ji.

My submission is that while Tamil Nadu should be treated with priority, the government of India must rise to the occasion regarding West Bengal’s flood and drought situation with all sorts of assistance. Centre should discuss with the Chief Ministers of the states in a broad way and a central team should visit and assess the situation. The Chief Ministers are the people’s representative and when they are asking for some financial assistance it should be taken with all priority.

So, Madam, this discussion was very much important for I think those states which are affected by drought and flood.

Thank you.